Monday, October 7, 2019

Track Readiness - Cooling and Safety

Now that SCCA Solo Nationals is behind us, it was time to install all the parts that I'd been accumulating the past few months to make the Cayman track ready. What does track-ready mean? Well, I've already done a number of precautionary modifications such as the motorsports air-oil separator and a baffled oil pan but the next step is to address cooling, safety, and additional oil monitoring. I dropped the car off with Speedsport Tuning two weeks ago along with boxes of parts and they put it all together for me.

CSF Radiators Installed - 10/4/19
Initially, I had planned to just add an OEM center radiator but with the side radiators being 12 years old, I thought it was worth replacing them as well. After doing some research, I felt upgrading all 3 radiators to CSF radiators would be the right choice. They're extremely well crafted, offers improved cooling performance, and with an all-aluminum design, are more durable than the OEM ones.

CSF side and center radiators 
Obviously, to make the center radiator work, they had to cut out the piece of the front bumper which is actually standard on Tiptronic model 987.1 Caymans. To avoid leaves accumulating on the radiator, I also picked up a Zunsport center grill for a clean look.

All back together with the Zunsport center grill - 10/4/19
Porsche clearly wants to distinguish the Cayman from the 911 and one way they do that is by not including oil monitoring as standard. There are no oil temperature or oil pressure gauges built into the car nor are there any sensors on the engine for it. I hate being on track and not having at least visibility into my oil pressure to know whether or not I'm dumping oil on the track so I had one added in.

Oil pressure sender wired in
I chose the Autometer Ultra Lite II oil pressure gauge because the face matches the OEM gauges quite nicely and fits perfectly in the spot where the Sports Chrono clock sits. This is a much more functional use for that space since having a stopwatch is pretty useless.

Autometer oil pressure gauge in sports chrono gauge pod
A few months ago I received my Heigo Rollbar from Germany and dropped it off with JT Powder Coating to have it powder coated Hot Mustard. Although I don't technically need a rollbar in the car, many tracks now insist on rollbars if you are using 6-pt harnesses with fixed backed seats. I also like having the extra layer of safety.

Powder-coated Heigo Rollbar
I decided to continue to use the DMC harness bar since I like its relative placement and mount points for the harness. Thankfully the Heigo fits in perfectly without interfering with either the DMC harness bar or the GT2 carbon seats (I can still slide the seats all the way back). They installed the rollbar for me including the harness bar that it comes with. This is the crossbar that sits closest to the back of the car. Although I'm not going to use it for its official purpose, I think it helps add rigidity since it ties the two rear shock towers together so it made sense to keep it in.

Rollbar getting installed
Rollbar getting installed
Heigo Rollbar Installed - 10/4/19
As part of them going over the car, they also noted that the coil packs had started to develop cracks so I had all coil packs and plugs replaced with new ones.

The car is now fully track capable. I don't intend on making any of my cars dedicated track cars and I'm far from being a track rat but I do like to know that if I wanted to do a track day in the Cayman, she's ready to go and that I've done everything I can to improve safety for myself and the engine.

Maintenance Update:

Mileage: 39,481
- New Coils Pack
- New Spark Plugs
- New radiators (CSF)

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Tints Off, Brakes Refreshed - Ready for Inspection

I like a slight tint on cars but the previous owner put on some crazy 15% tint all around. Legalities for NYS aside, I just find this too dark especially for winter driving so I tried to garment steamer method to take the film off. It actually came out great but was incredibly time consuming to do right (35-45 minutes per window).

Steaming the tint to soften the adhesive - 10-5-2019
It left minimal residue (mostly in areas where I rushed a bit). These windows must've been tinted with the windows out or something because the tint extended to areas way past the trim so I don't even know how he got it there. This also made it tricky to grab an edge so I slit the top after heating to have something to grab onto.

Slitting and peeling the tint off - 10-5-2019
I think it came out ok. The factory/natural tint on the windows is actually nice so I think I'm going to keep it this way.

Before with 15% tint
After with OEM tint levels (70%?) - 10/5/2019
The last remaining item to get through before inspect was the rear brakes. The previous owner had replaced the front brakes only not too long ago with Zimmerman rotors and EBC red brake pads but opted to punt on the rear for a bit. It still had some rear braks left but I personally think it's on the low side so I put in new rotors and EBC green brake pads to keep the front bias of the brakes.

New rear rotors and pads - 10/5/2019
Rear brakes all buttoned up - 10/5/2019
I'll be finally registering it shortly to put the plates on and the car is now ready for NYS inspection. Now all the basics are out of the way we can start putting on the real mods.

Maintenance Update:

Mileage: 50,785
- New Zimmerman Rear Rotors
- EBS Green Brake Pads
- New TTY M14 bolts and set screw

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Functionally Aesthetic

I have a tendency to go towards spending a little extra for visually appealing mods but I also try to make sure they have some functional aspect to them rather than just be purely cosmetic. I picked up these used Euro rear headrests which, upon first reaction, you'd think makes no sense since I don't sit back there.

Euro Rear Headrests - 10/3/19
Well, while the GTi is nice and small, the rear visibility isn't the greatest and the OEM rear headrests sticking up the way they do, block a good chunk of the rear window even when pulled all the way to their lowest position. Naturally, one easy solution is to simply remove the headrest but I don't like how that looks. Plus, if I actually have backseat passengers, I would like them to have a functional headrest.

OEM "tall" headerests
As you can see, the euro headrests (called that because that's how these cars come in Europe), are L shaped so when you drop them to the lowest position, they sit flush with the center headrest and get out of the way. Anyway, it's a fairly inexpensive mod using OEM parts that in my option look pretty nice and are quite functional.

OEM headreset (left), Euro headrest (right)
I was very glad when I first saw the car from the previous buyer that he hadn't drilled the holes for the front license plate. Unfortunately, in NY, front plates are required and especially in Manhattan, that's a really easy way to just keep getting tickets. Rather than add the OEM license plate bracket, I went with a tow hook mounted one from U.S. Mills. It's really nicely constructed and sits in a decently pleasing location. The best part is that it takes almost no time to remove if I want to have a clean front end for photos or other activities.

U.S. Mills front license plate tow hook mount - 10/3/19
Finally, the car came with a flush mount Whispbar roof rack but I had the previous owner remove it when I was looking at the car to make sure the paint underneath it hadn't gotten ruined. Thankfully all is well and so I spent the evening putting it back on just so I could figure out the fitment.

Yakima Whisbar roof rack - 10/3/19

I was at least grateful that the previous owner actually gave me a brand new mounting kit with new rubber feet in addition to the old one (I'm obviously using the fresh mounts). It took a large amount of fiddling to get these seated just right but the clearances are quite good and the sunroof tucks just beneath the rear crossbar. That makes this complicated because if I had anything actually attached to the bars then I can't open the sunroof all the way anymore. That makes me wonder whether or not I'm going to keep these on but for now, the answer is yes since I have some nice ideas for roof boxes to help with the decreased storage space once this car replaced my Touareg completely.

Roof bars on. Looks alright I think - 10/3/19
If I do keep these on, I'm going to mark their spot and add these Laminx clear film strips underneath to prevent marring of the paint.

Laminx clear film to protect from roof rack feet marks - 10/3/19
The car's coming along quite nicely. We've got a few more things to take care of before I deem her worthy to officially roam around the streets as my car but we'll try to sort much of that this weekend.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Getting started with modding the GTi

Although I bought the MK7 GTi last week, I didn't take it home until this weekend (thanks Alex for the assist). I had already been buying requisite mods while I was waiting and finally got started with installing some of it today. The first thing I actually did was to unpack the car and take inventory of all the stuff the previous owner gave me which included a set of stock wheels with winter tires, the original downpipe and the roof rails.

Aww, the original downpipe...go straight to storage lol (9/29/19)
It's nice that he already upgraded the downpipe but I personally would've picked up one that has a flex pipe just like the OEM one to avoid cracking over time as the engine shifts. We'll be remedying that in the not too distance future. For now, I'm just keeping the original downpipe safe since you never know when you need to put the stock cats back on.

Proclip mount with Baseus magnetic base - 9/29/19
I general choose Proclip anytime I get a car mount except where there is a better design (i.e. the Rennline mounts for the Porsches) but there's a running joke that anytime I buy a proclip mount for a car before I actually buy it, I end up not buying the car. I was batting 0% so far but I was feeling good about this GTi so I bought the mount early and finally broke the curse. It felt satisfying to install a Proclip I bought in the car I actually intended to buy haha.

Raceseng Spherology Custom in Translucent Red - 9/29/19
I also ordered a custom Spherology shift knob from Raceseng in Translucent Red.  I have the exact same shift knob in the Cayman but in yellow. I think it looks and feels great and if I wasn't such a Mugen whore, I'd probably replace the Mugen shift knob in Bumblestook with the same kind. It sits a bit lower than stock and combined with the short shifter installed in the car makes the throws pretty short, maybe a tad too short but I'm sure I'll get used to it. It just looks so good with the little red accents in the car like the stitching. I also love that it's weighted. It just feels so good with every shift.

Raceseng Spherology Custom in Translucent Red - 9/29/19
Random weird things happen on the road all the time so I've started to equip all my cars with dash cams. I decided to basically do the same thing I did in the Cayman using the exact same hard-wire kit and camera. It's similarly easy to do on the GTi, you just have to remove the mini compartment under the steering wheel to get to the fuse panel. I opted to tap into the last 10A fuse slot in the lowest row which is for the left side DRL which is only on if the car is on.

Tapping into the fuse box - 9/29/19
Testing camera works when car is turned on - 9/29/19
Once I had all that working. I just had to pop out the side panel and the wire up the A-pillar then across the headliner. I may adjust things a bit further in the future but for now, this seems like a good spot.

Running power up the side panel into the a-pillar - 9/29/19
Tucked into the top of the a-pillar
dashcam mounted and operational - 9/29/19
I decided to standardize all my cars to run Titanium wheel bolts or nuts (whichever applies). The GTi is no different so I got a set of 27mm R14x1.5 Titanium wheel bolts from ECS Tuning. While they do offer weight reduction, my primary reasoning for getting these is not having to deal with rust. It also gave me a chance to double-check the torque specs on all these bolts. I generally don't trust anyone else when it comes to securing wheels on my car so I wanted to make sure they were all to torqued to spec anyway.

ECS Tuning titanium conical wheel bolt - 9/29/19
The last project I wanted to tackle, I, unfortunately, had to abort. I forgot that I left my triple square kit in the Cayman and it's at the shop getting work done right now so, for now, I spend time to take a look at what I need to do. The issue is that all Golfs including the might Golf R have plastic oil pans. This is totally fine. Lots of things on cars are plastic now but the problem is that it actually is one of the lowest points of the car and I'm worried that driving around NYC roads something will kick up and hit it and things will poorly.

That honeycomb looking thing is the oil pan - 9/29/19
Well, you can solve this a few ways including replacing it with a metal one and/or adding a metal aftermarket skid plate. However, another great option is actually OEM. The Golf Alltrack was designed to do a bit of "off roading" so it was fitted from the factory with a rugged plastic (and also kevlar reinforced) tray that extends all the way past the oil pan. You can buy these as a kit from several vendors so naturally, being the highly risk adverse person that I am, I picked up one of these.

OEM GTi splash shield
The Alltrack undertray with brackets and fasteners
You can see how much bigger the Alltrack tray is. It's secured to brackets that mount to the frame up front and 3 big bolts to the subframe plus a few screws on each side for good measure. It does mean this panel needs to be removed for oil changes but the extra bit of protection is worthwhile in my book. I'm not going to lower the car to the point where I'm worrying about any kind of direct big impact which I don't think this will help with anyway (i.e. hitting a curb) but for random rocks that might come flying, this will do an adequate job of deflecting those projectiles away from the pan. I'll create a separate post documenting that install when I get to it. Those brackets are particularly annoying to install and while there are many posts about how to install these in the forums, the lack of visual reference (photos) is sorely lacking.

I ran out of time today but there'll be a few more little bits and pieces that need to be taken care of before she takes the place of the Touareg in the city with me.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Final Track Day for 2019 - NYST with S2K Takeover

Despite the damp, cold and extremely foggy conditions leading up to the first session, today was about as good as it gets. Sunny, not too warm and perfectly dry track. This is my last track day for the season and doing it with S2K Takeover was the best way to do it. It's always such a chill, friendly environment where you can go out and just enjoy driving your car and improve on your own times among friends. We had so many sessions, I didn't even do them all. I think I stopped after a total of around 2 hours of seat time. I had frankly used up all the adrenaline I could muster and I've always made it a point to stop anytime I notice my mind starting to wander. That's usually when you go from having a great time to having a really bad time all in a split second so I know myself enough to call it quits while I'm ahead.

Showing up at sunrise - NYST - 9-27-2019
S2K Takeover
My goal was to have fun, bring the car home in one piece on its own power and maybe at least try to improve on my personal best time at this track. I'm happy to say that I was able to do all three. This track isn't very forgiving when it comes to mistakes so I've always left enough safety margin to correct mistakes if needed. With each session I just focused on one specific corner at a time, trying different lines to see how they felt and pushing the car just a little bit more to explore the limits without just trying to pull a hail mary.

Track day complete - 9-27-2019

NYST - 9-27-2019

In the end, I found almost a second improvement from my previous visits here with a new personal best at 1:43:37 as measured by Track Addict hooked up to my QStarz external GPS. There's still plenty of time to be had out there but I'm quite content incrementally working my way to a better time with each visit. Some people thrive on doing track events because of competition. For me, it's much more about being in an environment where I can use potential of the car and learn new things. On a side note, the Advan A052s are working fantastically as a track tire. The grip is pretty consistent lap after lap with good feedback. I'm still somewhat rubbing on the rear bumper tabs so I'll have to do a bit more trimming for clearance but I'm definitely very happy with these tires so far.

Bumblestook @ S2KTakeover - NYST - 9-27-2019 - 1:43:37 - New PB

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Red Hot Chili Hatch - Project Sleeper

I know it's probably weird but I've been wanting to build a sleeper hot hatch for some time now and the MK7 Golf GTi checked all my criteria. I've been going back between a GTi and a Golf R but eventually felt the GTi was probably the more appropriate choice. It's less "special" and I therefore don't have to feel so precious about it. I've been on the hunt for some time now and I was really hoping to find one that was a 1-owner private sale where I could really talk to the current owner so I could get a real feel for how the car was used, and more importantly, taken care of.

2016 Tornado Red VW Golf GTi - "Chili" - 9-21-2019
After several months of randomly seeing what was out there, I found this one perusing the forums. It's a 2016 Tornado Red Golf GTi 6MT with Performance Pack (LSD + Golf R brakes), Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC - Electronic shocks) and Lighting Package with just over 50K miles. It isn't stock but the modifications were ones I'd likely have done myself. Curious, I contacted the seller, Mike, and we had a really good chat on the phone where it was very clear to me he was a real car enthusiast. Not only was he able to tell me the entire history of the car since buying it new but when we talked about each mod there was a clear rhyme and reason to everything. I may have gone a slightly different way in some areas but for the most part I understood his choices. This was his daily driver and his modification were in the direction of a reliable, performance daily. It was also very obvious to me that we had similar car maintenance philosophies. He had done lots of preventative maintenance, replacing weak parts with better ones when the opportunity presented itself.

PPI - 9-18-2019
Since he lives in PA, I scheduled a time for a test drive for this weekend and during the week we continued to chat about the car and I had him get a PPI done out of due diligence. As expected, the car passed with flying colors. The only item of note was that the rear brakes would need replacing in the next 4-5K miles which Mike already disclosed to me before the PPI. Otherwise, for a daily driven car, it was in really great condition. It has some very minor cosmetic flaws like a few rock chips on the bumper but nothing of major concern. After driving it today, I was sold. Everything felt tight, the upgraded clutch felt perfect and the power delivery smooth. I don't think the car "needs" anything right now but as you might expect from me, I've already got a build sheet going though I may execute it more slowly. The list of current installed mods are:


  • APR Stage 1 - 93 octane low torque profile 
  • CTS downpipe with high flow catalytic converter 
  • CTS turbo inlet 
  • CTS turbo muffler delete 
  • Forge turbo blanket 
  • 034 Motorsports Dog bone insert 
  • APR spherical pendulum mount 
  • ECS silicone air intake duct 
  • Dv+ diverter valve 
  • Audi RS 3 ignition coils 
  • Billet rear main seal
  • ECS adjustable short shift kit 
  • ECS Bleeder Block 
  • Eibach 25 mm rear sway bar 
  • Super pro polyurethane rear endlinks 
  • Sachs ZF performance clutch kit (stiffer pedal feel over stock,​ pressure plate from an Audi TT-RS)  
  • Mud flaps 
  • Whispbar roof rack 
  • Alzor 349 wheels with BBS center caps - Firestone Indy Firehawk 500 tires 
  • Stock rims with​ Falken snow tires
  • 15% full wrap window tint Gloss black mirror
This car will eventually replace my Touareg TDI as my primary vehicle. I'm going to have to make some adjustments to the window tint due to NY's stricter tint laws and have a few minor cosmetic / usability / reliability tweaks of my own to add as my first step but for the most part the exterior will remain mostly stock looking. Since I'm going for the full "sleeper" vibe, major changes will remain largely under the hood or very subtle. Ideally I just want someone walking by to just say "oh that's a cute Golf" and continue walking not knowing what lurks underneath. I only drive my primary vehicle 5-6k miles a year so while I am still going to make sure things are reliable, I can do a few things to spice things up for some spirited drives but this car will not be set up for any form of racing. It may or may not end up being the fastest straight line car I own haha. 

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Consolidating Blogs

Historically I've kept separate blogs for each car in the Steguis Motorsports fleet but that after a few years now that's started to make less sense. There's content I want to write about that's not specific to an individual car. New cars might get added and sometimes there's stuff going on between multiple cars so I decided to simply combine the blogs all into one place, all under the Steguis Motorsports flag.

If you're new here, then welcome, and if you're an old-time reader of my blogs, then I hope you'll find it convenient to see all the content in one place once and for all.