Fuel Economy with IS38

One look at that title must have you wondering – “What kind of lunatic tracks fuel economy in a modified GTI?” THIS GUY does. HAHA! Coming from a Volkswagen turbodiesel background and having a lifetime of fuel economy testing under my belt, you KNOW I took the car on a road circuit to see how the IS38 affected my fuel economy. I got 39.6 mpg when the car was stock and descending from Tennessee to the coast during its first trip to Tail of the Dragon. Later, I developed this 200-mile road circuit (see photo) where I could make consistent drives to test fuel economy at efficient highway speeds in support of this article about how different loads affect fuel economy. I drove the circuit again after upgrading to APR Stage 2 and achieved 38 mpg. I had hoped to do better with APR’s high-flow catalytic converter. Unfortunately, I didn’t test fuel economy after upgrading to the Baun Performance cat-back exhaust. I wish that I had. Continue reading

Posted in Mods & Projects, Product Review | Leave a comment

APR Stage 3 with OEM IS38

This is the upgrade I thought I’d never do because it increases maintenance needs and removes some of the low-end torque that I really enjoy… and it’s expensive. Still, I would have instinctively seen an IS38 as a good upgrade if my original turbo had failed. Well, with 128,730 miles on the odometer, I got bored and decided to make a leap to greater power! I took the car to my APR dealer, Euro Pros in Yorktown, VA, and had them install an IS38 turbo and update the software. The IS38 is the factory turbo found on the Golf R and Audi S3. In fact, we acquired my turbo from a local Audi dealer to insure that we sourced the latest revision. Also, APR recommends NGK-R7437-9 spark plugs, which have been backordered for a while. Instead, Euro Pros installed OEM spark plugs for an Audi RS5, P/N: 06M905606F, also acquired from a local Audi dealer. The RS5 plugs work great, are half the price of the NGK racing spark plugs, and have a longer service life. Continue reading

Posted in Mods & Projects, Performance Related, Product Review | 2 Comments

VA to CA and Back: Full Trip Wrap-Up

Being a former TDI owner, I still love to track fuel economy and other technical stuff. Come to think of it, I’ve tracked MPGs from the day I got my first car, a 1973 Beetle in 1986. Overall for this trip, I drove 7668 miles and burned 352 gallons of premium unleaded. That puts the trip’s average fuel economy at 21.7 mpg, which is 1.3 mpg less than on my previous trip to CA. I had hoped that the cargo trailer would be more aerodynamic than the top-loaded utility trailer. However, the cargo trailer is heavier, wider, and taller; plus, I think my speeds were consistently higher along the way. I suspect I-80 may be slightly more mountainous than I-40, too. I haven’t scrutinized the costs of hotels, fuel, and food separately. I don’t want to! But I do know that this trip was an expensive way to get a small amount of my mother’s stuff. Regardless, this was more about the journey than the economical acquisition of goods. Continue reading

Posted in Road Trips | Leave a comment

Return to VA: Part 3

As I was digging in my suitcase and deciding what to wear, I saw a strange color that surely was not my normal thing. “What’s this?” A kid somewhere is upset! I guess finding someone else’s clothing mixed-in with my own is an aspect of laundromat-life that I had forgotten about. I don’t think I had this happen before, even when I was a regular at laundromats, and certainly not 1000 miles after the fact. Live and learn, them more than me this time, I guess.  😀  I left Columbia just after sunrise and planned to drive 500 miles to Springfield, OH. Why the turn north? I saw an opportunity to enter Pennsylvania for another “Been There” mug. Coincidentally, someone had commented on my tiny cargo trailer conversion in Instagram about a month before I left on this trip. He’s near Pittsburgh. So, I offered to meet him and show him the trailer in person. Some of you may recognize him. More on that later… Continue reading

Posted in Road Trips | Leave a comment

Return to VA: Part 2

I left Rawlins, WY bright and early. The drivers of the pickup trucks that had parked around me were early birds! They were already gone long before sunrise. I was certain that I-80 would be endless miles of boredom; that’s what I was hoping for, at least. There are a lot of mountain passes and opportunities to find closed gates if unexpected snow came. I didn’t see anything in the forecast, but that didn’t preclude the possibility of a mountain pass being closed. Other than avoiding snow and ice, my only priority on this day was to get more “Been There” mugs for my wife. Continue reading

Posted in Road Trips | Leave a comment

Return to VA: Part 1

My wife got up around 3:30am to pack her bags. I slept until about 10 minutes before we needed to leave. The hotel was just five minutes from the departure terminal; so, I had the luxury of kicking her out the door and then going back to the hotel to pack. We said our goodbyes and I returned to the hotel. Traveling with her, even for just a weekend, often results in A LOT of extra stuff in the car. She loves to pack plenty of snacks and drinks. My back seat had just a jacket and a suitcase for my outbound trip. I buy food and drinks as I travel. Here’s the car after a weekend with my wife and for the trip home… Continue reading

Posted in Road Trips | Leave a comment

Return to CA: Packing and Sequoia National Park, Round 2

After a good night’s rest, we went to my mother’s storage unit to unpack and decide what was coming home with us. I nearly had a heart attack every time I heard my wife say, “Awww…” It seemed like a potential signal of each additional thing she’d want to load into the trailer. HAHA! I had made it clear that I was bringing home “just” 500 lbs, nothing more. Thankfully, many of the things that gave her moments of pause were also things that she was able to put back into their box and move on. Later, she said that it was 1:00pm and that she was hungry. “WOW! Has it been that long already?” We had leftover pizza in the car’s refrigerator and took a lunch break. While eating, I opened my Instagram page and discovered that it wasn’t 1:00pm. Her FitBit was still on east coast time; it was only 10:00am. “Early lunch for us!” HAHA! Continue reading

Posted in Road Trips | Leave a comment

Return to CA: Sequoia National Park, The Giant Forest

In my previous entry, I had left my trailer in a pull-out just below the snow-line on the mountain climb to General Sherman Tree in Sequoia National Park. I didn’t want to spend too much time away from it since I was paranoid about it being stolen or towed (small trailers are easier to snag). It wasn’t about the cost of replacing it. Instead, its disappearance would have put a huge dent in my timeline for getting my mother’s stuff. I was burning PTO (paid time off) in the hole (negative balance) and wanted to minimize any disruptions. Realistically, had anything happened to it there or elsewhere, I was prepared to just buy another trailer and get my mission completed. Still, the park ranger assured me that it would be fine. My first stop along my way farther up the mountain was to shoot the “small” Sequoia in my previous update (shown here). From there, I went to the Fallen Tree Tunnel. The road was closed because it is unmaintained during the off-season since the plows cannot fit. I could have hiked and saw the tree. But shooting it without the car was not part of my plan. Plus, I was on a tight schedule because I needed to pick up my wife from the airport soon. Continue reading

Posted in Road Trips | Leave a comment

Return to CA: Sequoia National Park, The Ascent

I awoke nice and early because I wanted to beat the crowds to Sequoia National Park. My goal was to photograph the car with some Sequoias and to get a photo with the car/trailer in the fallen tree tunnel. The road had been indicated “closed” on Google Maps, but appeared to be open now. I called the road conditions hotline: “Roads open… Chains not required.” I’m gone! My hotel was at around 350 feet above sea level. The Sequoias are in the mountains where there is no fuel stations or cellular service. It was no place to take a trailer without a full tank of fuel. I refueled about halfway there to avoid any surprises. Then came the entrance… all to myself…

Continue reading

Posted in Road Trips | Leave a comment

Return to CA: Part 3

Next, I entered the place that compelled me to pack extra fuel in the trailer: Death Valley. Websites and blog write-ups warn that there is no cellular coverage in Death Valley. They’re not kidding! I easily drove over 150 miles without a signal, even with my cellular signal booster. Bring paper maps and/or download offline maps for navigating. I had both and was ready to visit a few main attractions. For a very long time, I had thought about a road trip that included the highest paved road in the U.S. I thought that was Pike’s Peak until I later discovered that it’s Mt Evans nearby. Regardless, both my November trip and this current trip took place when those roads are closed due to snow and ice. Continue reading

Posted in Road Trips | Leave a comment

Return to CA: Part 2

I mentioned in my previous entry that I arrived in Flagstaff under moderate snowfall. I settled into my hotel room and enjoyed an early evening inside. Silly me, I didn’t look at the weather forecast before going to sleep. I awoke early the next morning at around 4am. I don’t know why, but I STILL didn’t think to look at the forecast to check for more snow. I guess I love surprises! I went outside to discover that a bit more snow had fallen, maybe two inches. After taking this photo, I opened the trailer to grab my snow removal tool. I KNEW it was a good idea to pack for snow! Continue reading

Posted in Road Trips | Leave a comment

Return to CA: Part 1

Rainfall during the days leading up to my departure was killing my workflow. But I got things done when I could. Here’s the trailer’s interior as it was for the outbound trip. I don’t think I mentioned that I’d be traveling with a refrigerator and a battery back-up. I’ll share a photo of the setup in an album at the bottom of this page. I visited a scale to weigh everything. Unfortunately, the video of that visit got corrupted and the specific numbers are lost. BUT – I do remember that the trailer itself weighed 1060 lbs (480 kg), which included five gallons (19 liters) of extra fuel as a precaution in sparsely populated areas along my route. So much for staying below 1000 lbs (455 kg) for the outbound trip. The good news was that I expected to be past the scarce fuel areas by the time I loaded cargo and could empty the fuel can into my car’s fuel tank in California. Continue reading

Posted in Road Trips | Leave a comment

Return to CA: Kick Off

It came time to hit the road again. You may recall my “Coast-to-Coast” series from November (shared in January). My wife and I had driven to CA to retrieve my mother’s cremains and some of her effects. What we didn’t expect was to have a change of heart regarding our desire to bring more of her things home with us. Unfortunately, we were at my limit for cargo capacity in my GTI and the baby trailer. We immediately made plans for a return trip. We had two significant concerns: 1) Winter was coming; so, we needed to wait until at least March. 2) Unloading/reloading the baby trailer each day was a pain! Plus, it was an aerodynamic disaster. I decided to speed my efforts to finish the conversion project that I had started on my cargo trailer. Using the cargo trailer MIGHT improve aerodynamics, but would certainly allow me to leave my cargo locked in the trailer each night. Continue reading

Posted in Road Trips | Leave a comment

From the Vault: Our 2011 Road Trip

Note: This journal is printed as it was shared on my previous website at StealthTDI.com. It was updated periodically and followed by friends at TDIClub.com. I duplicated the journey on this site because it was a good trip and still referenced as a basis for some of my travel-related decisions today. Enjoy! -Scott

In 2011, the annual TDIFest was held in Lexington, KY. This was an event I knew was close enough to take my daughter and still have her back by the first day of school. I also planned to combine this trip with a trip to Texas to visit my family there. In time, I decided to tack on a few extra miles so I could reshoot the car photos I had done in White Sands, NM. Before I knew it, the trip turned into a full-on photo tour with emphasis on car photos for my website. Unlike with our TOUR OF THE NORTHERN US, I shared and unfolded the trip in two discussion forums HERE and HERE. The photos in the threads are gone since I retired my old site, StealthTDI.com. This page was created after the trip and features all of the photos. I took THOUSANDS of photos using a camera that my wife gave me for the trip. I’ll share a lot of photos below. The map above depicts our planned route. At first, this was planned as a trip to Texas followed by a trip to the TDIFest on the way home. Then I added White Sands. Later, I decided to add Oklahoma since I had not yet tackled that state for my STATES TRAVELED MAP. During the trip, I was presented with an opportunity to attend my 25-year high school reunion. The rest was just stops along the way. Continue reading

Posted in Road Trips | Leave a comment

From the Vault: Our Tour of the Northern United States (1999)

Note: This journal is printed as it was shared on my previous website at StealthTDI.com. It was updated periodically and followed by friends at TDIClub.com (before it was a registered site). As a result, it is written in a present tense even though the voyage happened over 20 years ago. I duplicated the journey on this site because it was a good trip and still referenced as a basis for some of my travel-related decisions today. Enjoy! -Scott

May 12, 1999

Windmill in Buzzards Bay, MA.

On May 18, 1999, my wife and I will transfer from Cape Cod, MA to West Texas. Instead of making the transfer a four-day 2400-mile “Point A to Point B” drive, we decided to make it a 5000+ mile tour and see some sites while we’re on the road. Our main goal is to drive to Montana to meet family members I have not seen since I was a toddler (in other words, I’ve never met them). We simply plotted our course to West Texas via Montana and chose points in between to visit along the way (or slightly out of the way). Continue reading

Posted in Road Trips | Leave a comment

Tiny Cargo Trailer Conversion – Exterior

The exterior: The final stretch! I had initially sanded the original paint and had a plan to have it wrapped. I did that before a lot of other projects started. Lockdowns put the wrap on hold. My goal was to paint it to match my GTI. So, I decided to try a matching spray paint. It did not work well at all. I’ve spray-painted plenty of small projects in my life. But this was my first attempt at spraying a large surface. There were streaks everywhere, no matter how much I overlapped. Continue reading

Posted in Microlanding, Tiny Cargo Trailer Conversion, Trailer/Cargo | 3 Comments

Tiny Cargo Trailer Conversion – The Interior

With the roof resealed and basic wiring done, it was time to work on the interior. I started with the insulation. A lot of DIY trailer converters like to use the pink stuff or the blue stuff. Unfortunately, the green stuff was all I could find, perhaps due to a variety of business shutdowns in 2020. So, I went with what I could find. I wasn’t going to lose time due to a minor insulation preference. Plus, I’m not fooling myself into believing that I’m going to camp in extreme heat or cold, especially in this tiny camper. As a result, I think nearly any insulation will be an improvement that’s “good enough.” Continue reading

Posted in Microlanding, Tiny Cargo Trailer Conversion, Trailer/Cargo | Leave a comment

Tiny Cargo Trailer Conversion – Electrical

With the roof fan installed, I had some encouragement to rework the trailer wiring so that I could get some airflow while working inside. The factory wiring was terrible! It looked like this on both sides of the back door. It was disappointing to find this. However, in retrospect, I’m not sure what method “quality builders” are using in the same location. This area was covered by aluminum flashing and is probably never seen by the average owner. Still, as a career electronics man, it was unacceptable to me and one of the first things I wanted to address. The wiring harness enters the interior through and unsealed hole in the frame. Once inside, the harness quickly became a patchwork of what appeared to be whatever wire colors that the Homesteader crew had laying around, especially once the wires crossed over to the other side of the trailer. Continue reading

Posted in Microlanding, Tiny Cargo Trailer Conversion, Trailer/Cargo | Leave a comment

Tiny Cargo Trailer Conversion – The Roof

In “The Problems,” I mentioned my need to reseal the roof after finding leaks inside the walls. In order to reseal the roof, I first had to strip away the existing sealant. I thought that would be easy enough with a scraper, a putty knife, and some heat. I was wrong! Sure, the bulk of the sealant did come up with scraping and heat. What I didn’t know is that there is at least a dozen screws which fasten the roof to the structure hidden under the sealant. There was also 50+ raised edges where Homesteader had kerfed the front end of the trim ring without trimming away the excess material. See the photo above for details. That kerf job made smooth operation of a scraper just about impossible. Continue reading

Posted in Product Review, Trailer/Cargo | Leave a comment

Tiny Cargo Trailer Conversion – The Problems

Converting my Homesteader Fury tiny cargo trailer into a sleeper turned out to be a real challenge! It was easy to assume the job would go smoothly since the original owner only had it for a year and was using it to haul around products for a clothing business. So, it was very clean inside. I figured removing the walls to add insulation would be an easy feat. I was right… they came out fairly easily. It was at that point that I found evidence of leaks and subpar craftsmanship in the build. I figured I’d better tackle those concerns while I had already dug into the trailer. That’s when the trouble started. Continue reading

Posted in Microlanding, Product Review, Tiny Cargo Trailer Conversion, Trailer/Cargo | 2 Comments

Coast to Coast: Return Trip, The Final Stretch

We continued to Oklahoma City and checked in at our planned stop. It was a convention center. I knew unloading would be painful as soon as the receptionist gave me a map to the parking area. UGH! There was only one luggage cart. Thankfully, we were able to walk all the way back to the front desk, take the cart all the way back to the car, and then get to work. There was just one elevator for the whole place. It wasn’t busy, but it was far from the only ramp in the parking lot. It had me wondering why the accessible rooms are so far from the conference center… or why the parking spot is so far from the accessible rooms… Oh well, not my problem. Continue reading

Posted in Road Trips | Leave a comment

Coast to Coast: Return Trip, Pt 2

We hit the road very late after loading the cats and Mom’s effects, perhaps 2pm. So, we didn’t aim to get very far, just out of the area and into our first hotel at a decent time. We took at different route home than originally planned. The car’s engine problem, our one day delay, and reports of inclement weather (and visible slow-downs on I-80 in Google Maps) had me rethinking how much I wanted to risk being in the cold if I have further troubles. The potential for trouble had me thinking that I wanted to stay on the Interstates since services are more plentiful there. We had silly goals to “check-off” some of the middle states and to visit a few attractions. BUT, given what my brother saw in the Sequoias (snow and ice), there was a good chance that the Bonneville Salt Flats and Pike’s Peak would be inaccessible to my GTI and trailer, anyway. I had already canceled all of our hotel reservations along the previous return route when we were delayed a day. So, different hotel stays were in order. Plus, I wanted shorter travel days due to our fatigue. I removed NV, UT, WY, CO, and NE from our plan and decided to return along I-40. Continue reading

Posted in Road Trips | Leave a comment

Coast to Coast: Return Trip, Relearning to Pack

Our first order of business in the morning was to assemble the kennels and then repack the car without using any of the interior cargo space that we previously had. The three kennels took up everything but the floor behind the front seats. We bought shipping boxes and packing tape to temporarily hold some of the cargo while we figured out what to do with it. We quickly found ourselves out of time with the hotel and just put everything in the parking lot so that we could work there and figure out a new place for everything. This isn’t even all of it. Continue reading

Posted in Road Trips | Leave a comment

Coast to Coast: Dealer Visit and Memorial Service

I drove to the dealer to get a set of ignition coils, commonly referred to as “coil packs,” while the rest of the family went to Sequoia National Park. They were not in stock. So, I ordered them for pick-up the following day. I returned to the hotel and edited photos until it was time to get ready for Mom’s memorial service. When the others returned from the Sequoias, they told me that they didn’t make it to any of the attractions that I had been targeting. There was a lot of snow and ice at elevation. The park does not clear the roads of snow. Even better, snow chains were required beyond a certain point and the road was impassible in a 2WD car without them. There’s no way I was renting chains to chain-up my GTI! I felt a TINY bit better in knowing that I didn’t drive all the way out there to be disappointed. The others still had a good visit, saw ONE Sequoia, and played in the snow, something that doesn’t appeal to me. Continue reading

Posted in Problems, Road Trips | 2 Comments

Coast to Coast: Outbound Trip, Pt 2

We got settled in our hotel room in Alamogordo, NM plenty late and planned to shoot at White Sands the following morning. Getting sunrise or “golden hour” shots would’ve been great. But the park didn’t open until 7am, or after both of those events. It takes about 45 minutes to load the car and trailer each morning. Not wanting to delay our arrival at White Sands, we left without packing the car and visited to a car wash so that the photos would be pretty. 🙂 Then, it was off to the park. After shooting photos, we went back to the room, packed the car, and hit the road to head west. Of course, we had to stop at a Starbucks to get a New Mexico “Been There” mug. 😉 Continue reading

Posted in Road Trips | 1 Comment

Coast to Coast: Outbound Trip, Pt 1

Day 1 took us to Morrisville, TN. I wanted a short day so that we could practice the load and unload of the trailer, basically getting our act together for the longer haul. I lucked out and found a nice long parking spot for the night. Reloading in the morning took about 45 minutes. From there, we went to a car wash. To my wife, I was just being prissy about my beloved GTI. The truth was that I was sneaking her onto the Tail of the Dragon (TOTD), where I knew the car would be photographed. She had balked at riding on the TOTD in the past because she was certain that it’s a dangerous road that would make her sick. I took a risk and was on the Dragon before she could protest. HAHA! Her experience was good. Continue reading

Posted in Road Trips | 2 Comments

Coast to Coast: The Plan

My brother (from central Texas) and I recently visited my mother in central California for what we were certain would be our last chance to see her alive. She was 72 and had suffered from a rare neurological disorder for about seven years. Sure enough, she died two days after we left CA. We quickly made a plan to return for her memorial service. He and his wife would fly from Texas, but I made a plan to drive so that I could retrieve her cremains and some personal effects. My wife would join me. Continue reading

Posted in Road Trips | Leave a comment

Baun Performance Cat-Back Exhaust

If you’ve followed my site for a while, then you may know that I had almost no interest in upgrading my exhaust. I had even added a resonator to suppress the extra drone that resulted when I upgraded to an APR down pipe. Why the change of heart? Why mess with a good recipe for sound control on my car? When I added the resonator, the installer had to add some 3-inch pipe and a reducer to adapt it to the factory 2.75-inch pipe. His work was not as pretty as I had hoped, but the welds were someplace that almost no one would see. Then a sharp-eyed YouTube viewer noticed a leak at that new weld. That’s when my mind’s wheels began to turn… Continue reading

Posted in Mods & Projects, Performance Related, Product Review | 4 Comments

Scorpion SA-680 Black Widow 10-80m Antenna

I had a long weekend commute on quiet highways from 2006-2009. So, surfing the HF bands was a great way to help the drive pass. I was using a Yaesu ATAS-120A. Performance-wise, it can be described as “adequate, but  not great.” With my Yaesu FT-857D, tuning the ATAS was as simple as pressing a “TUNE” button… or what could be called an “EASY” button.  😉  I made some distant contacts with that antenna, even toward the bottom of the solar cycle. I took a break from HF when I was stationed closer to home; my interest in ham radio comes and goes. Eventually, I decided I wanted a better antenna. Some say the Scorpion SA-680 is the best mobile HF antenna money can buy. I decided to find out. Continue reading

Posted in Ham Radio, Mods & Projects, Product Review | Leave a comment

Replacing the Manual Transmission Oil

I had a Mk3 Jetta TDI for 445,000 miles. I practiced 100,000-mile manual transmission drains, with the exception of one shorter interval during a differential upgrade. I decided to use the same drain interval on my GTI. Volkswagen does not specify a drain interval for the manual transmission. Regardless, there was no way I was going to just leave the “lifetime oil” in the car. I drained the oil at 101,000 miles and sent it for analysis. The results seemed average, with the exception of copper and iron content being a little high, but still healthy. Given the time and cost of the oil change, I think I will drain every 50,000 miles instead. Here are some notes that I will share about my manual transmission oil change: Continue reading

Posted in Maintenance | Leave a comment

I’ve Been Neglectful…

I can’t believe it’s been so long since my last post! One reason is because I had started a weight loss program. While it did not involve locking me up and taking away my computer, I endeavored to produce weekly or bi-weekly updates regarding my process on my bicycling YouTube channel. If you’re curious, I lost 58 lbs! See a video here. Around the same time, I was also striving to produce weekly videos for my StealthGTI YouTube channel. That kind of throughput was very time-consuming. I made my weight goal early in March, but I think we all know what else happened by March. Stay-at-home orders SHOULD have allowed me to spend more time writing for my blog. Instead, I spent much of my time either consuming or producing YouTube content. Now it’s time to play catch-up on my website! Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

100,000 Miles!

The 100,000-mile mark is a significant milestone for many car owners. I’m almost uncertain why that’s still true today. Even though the cars I grew up driving didn’t even have an odometer that counted past 99,999 miles, the majority of modern cars are capable of lasting far past that, especially with good care. Could it be that most of today’s car owners are too fickle to keep a car for long before moving on to something else? I’ve never had that problem. I kept my first new car, a 1988 Sentra, for eleven years and 120,000 miles. I could have kept it much longer, but it was a boring and gutless base model, which is why I’ve endeavored to make subsequent cars more interesting. I kept my 1998 Jetta TDI for 20 years and 445,000 miles. I loved that car, but it succumbed to hidden life-ending rust in key structural areas, a common problem with Mk3s. That was a blessing because I might not be in a GTI today if my Mk3 had endured. Continue reading

Posted in Milestones, Product Review | Leave a comment

More Changes to Ham Radio

If you follow my Facebook page, then you may remember that I relocated my Icom ID-5100A ham radio display to its third home about a year ago. It started in front of the gear shift in 2016, moved to the center vents in 2018, and then to the driver’s side vent in 2019. This location has been working well for me. However, I wanted to address the limitation of being able to use only use a tiny UHF antenna whenever I have a rooftop cargo box or basket mounted (see photo below). I devised a plan to remedy that. In the process, I decided to make other changes since I was already digging into things… Continue reading

Posted in Mods & Projects, Product Review | Leave a comment

DIY Awning

It’s been almost a year since I since I shared my desire to do some camping, perhaps leaning toward overlanding, or what I might call “microlanding” in my GTI. See that article here. Even after a year, I haven’t set out on any camping trips. My schedule just hasn’t worked out. However, I’m still pursuing that goal, albeit very slowly. I recently started watching an overlanding channel called “Softroading The West.” The owner explores Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land, state parks, and national forests in his Subaru Forester. He does quite well with his modest setup. He shared a DIY awning video that compelled me to try one of my own, with a few modifications to suit my needs. It turned out good; I even received kudos from @softroadingthewest himself. Continue reading

Posted in Microlanding, Mods & Projects | Leave a comment

ECS Street Shield Skid Plate and Tunnel Brace

It’s been over two years since I upgraded my factory plastic oil pan to a steel unit from USP. I went under the car to shoot footage for its three year anniversary video and discovered that the RTV gasket had been seeping. The leak wasn’t severe enough to drip to the ground; it was just enough to blow a mist all over the lower engine bay. I had already resealed a leaky steel pan on my daughter’s Golf. So, I was not interested in making a routine of removing the pan, scraping away old RTV, and then awaiting the cure time for a new installation. I decided to install an oil pan gasket that’s marketed for the Tiguan and see how it holds up (5500 miles and dry as of this writing). While preparing for the possibility that I may need to go back to the stock pan, I decided to order an ECS Street Shield skid plate with its accompanying brace. Continue reading

Posted in Mods & Projects, Product Review | 2 Comments

Sonax and Carbon Collective Oracle Ceramic Coatings

I had my GTI’s paint corrected and ceramic coated last April. I had a lot going on last year and didn’t take time to talk about it here, other than a short paragraph in an unrelated post. Nevertheless, I’ve been thrilled with the new shine and have been quietly enjoying its benefits. It was an expensive job, but well worth it. The seemingly random photos that I’ve shared over the past eight months show an excellent shine, even in the photos where the car is quite filthy. Have I mentioned how much I love Reflex Silver? It looks great almost all of the time, even when it’s dirty.  🙂 Continue reading

Posted in Mods & Projects, Product Review | Leave a comment

Homesteader Fury 4×6 Long-Term Review – Conversion Builders Beware!

I bought my 2016 Homesteader Fury 4×6′ cargo trailer second-hand on a whim during a casual morning drive on a nearby highway. The original owner had it for about a year and gently used it for a clothing business. It was in apparently-perfect condition. Read more about the trailer on this page. My goal was to use this trailer for some light camping and on rare occasions when I need to transport bulky items in a dry enclosure. I eventually began transforming the trailer for camping by removing the interior walls so that I could insulate them. That’s when the trouble began… Continue reading

Posted in Product Review, Tiny Cargo Trailer Conversion, Trailer/Cargo | Leave a comment

Three Years and 93,000 Miles: A Summary of Problems So Far

This entry is a bit overdue. Previously, I had focused on sharing my reports here in my blog and then followed-up with a supplemental video on my YouTube channel. This time, I shot the YouTube video first and had intended to write an accompanying blog entry after the video was published. But something surprised me: The video was far more popular than anything I had ever published before. Some described it as viral, but I don’t give it that much credit. Still, surpassing 100,000 views in less than two weeks was unprecedented on my channel, as were the hundreds of comments at that point. Responding to comments (engagement) improves video rankings. So, I spent A LOT of time engaging with the viewers, which left my blog neglected. The activity pushed my list of subscribers beyond the coveted 1000 and now has nearly 2000 subscribers. The activity on that video has since leveled-off to manageable traffic. It’s time to tell readers here about my three-year anniversary with the car. Continue reading

Posted in Milestones, Problems, Product Review | 10 Comments

“We Make Marines”

Note: This article is intentionally time-late and void of names in order to protect the privacy of our Marine. Everything written here is perishable info that is outdated.

Our daughter’s first job as a General Maintenance Technician (GST)…

My plans to take the car on more road trips and camping adventures hasn’t exactly come to fruition. Most of that is a result of procrastination and spending money on other interests/projects. Hot weather played a significant part in the decision, too. A change in my daughter’s career choice has impacted our ability to hit the road, as well. We had counted on her as a house and cat sitter when we’d leave for a few days. She made a sudden decision to join the Marines around the same time that I was kicking around the idea of camping and “microlanding.” She surprised everyone; now we have a Marine! Continue reading

Posted in Road Trips, Trailer/Cargo | 2 Comments

90,000 Miles and APR Update

Looking at the latest activity on my blog, I can see that there’s been hardly any activity at all! I’ve been busy doing other things: LIFE. 🙂  The car has surpassed 90,000 miles without any significant issues. It continues to be a great commuter car as well as a travel car and workhorse. One of my largest summer projects was to purchase a shed, place it, and then move everything into it from out of a storage unit. The baby trailer was definitely the hero of that endeavor, as was the Dutton-Lainson winch that I featured recently. I don’t think I’ve shared anything about the shed. So, I’ve shared a few photos in the album below. I’ve also done some work on my subwoofer system, supported a bicycle event, removed my “rear seat delete,” had the paint corrected and ceramic coated, and updated my APR software. I’ll share details below. Continue reading

Posted in Milestones, Mods & Projects, Performance Related, Product Review | Leave a comment