Monday, December 22, 2008

Slow Couple of Months

It's been a slow couple of Months for updates & modding.
Work has been taking up 99% of my time lately and time, money & other sources of parts have been in short supply! Also I noticed that after a few fairly inexpensive mods the list grows exponentially more expensive to get more performance etc.

A Cold Air Intake runs about 300 or so which is very do-able for most people. CatBack exhaust is around 700, and full headers you're looking at around 1700 which is already a good 5 times more than the CAI. Go Twin Turbo, or SuperCharger and you're looking at over 5000 + install. OUCH!

Luckely I do have some goodies coming my way (just don't know when they'll all get here or when i'll be able to have them installed). Here's the list of what's to come:

  • HST GTS 20" Wheels
I've wanted these wheels since I first saw the concept pictures of the G8. The wheels are standard on the Australian Commodore HSV VE GTS and with the low exchangerate it was a perfect time to get these.

  • HSV GTS Fenders
Once I learned more about the HSV VE GTS I really liked part of it's styling better than the G8. The Fenders were one of those items I really loved. The front is great too, but the boring plain hood is what kills it for me. Perhaps one day i'll pursue that and slap on a Walkinshaw Power Hood
  • American Racing Headers in 1-7/8"
After reading a WHOLE bunch and seeing people's experiences with all kinds of headers like Kooks, SLP, JBA etc one company to me stood high above the rest and this was American Racing Headers. They make a great product and they have fantastic customer service! It was on my 'must-have' list for awhile, but they're finally on their way!
  • Circle-D 2800 rpm Stall-Converter
Just like ARH, there are some companies that have just proven over time they deliver a superior product. Circle-D is to the Converter market what ARH is to the header market. Amazing workmanship & quality and topnotch service. I can't wait to get this one in the car. We didn't go too high a stall since 'down the line' (whenever that may be) I do plan on a supercharger .
  • Pedders 'Street II' kit with Xa Coilovers
Much has been said about Pedders. Some people think they just push their plastic bushings and that they are too expensive. Almost every single person who has driven in a 'pederized' car though has changed their mind afterwards. I had been looking at a Track II or a Street II package with a drop. Since I don't go to the track the Street II was a more logical choice but i always pushed it back since I really wanted coilovers eventually. Since pedders just came out with an introductary sale on their NEW coilovers it turned into a great deal I couldn't pass up and by adding their 'Street 1' Kit bushings I basically ended up with a Street II with Coilovers.

January is promising to be an exciting month!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Snow with Eagle RS-A Tires

So I already figured that the GoodYear Eagle RS-A tires were pretty bad in just about any condition. Dry, Wet all gave mediocre performance & handling at best. We've had a TON of snow over the last few days and with about 8 inches on the ground I decided to pull out of the garage and see how they'd handle the snow. This insane move was partially driven by my employer who's been giving me sarcastic comments about why i'm not able to show up to work when he is able to make it there (he lives 5 minutes down the street, which happens to be the MAIN street of the entire area so it's always iced/sanded etc). Gotta love passive-agressives...

Anyway, I parked nose in so I had to back out. As I start going and almost as soon as the rear wheels hit the snow I already notice the traction control light going crazy. Tires are spinning, snow is blowing everywhere, Ok, not a good sign. I easy of the gas and try again. I Get some traction somehow and manage to pull straight back out. Now I have to turn the wheel to see if I can make it up the driveway (which is pretty steep in places). As soon as I manage that and try to apply some throttle all hell breaks loose again. Tires spinning, the back end going back & forth.
Also I notice the car is just 'sunken' in the snow with the bottom basically scrapping/sitting on top of the snow. Bad move indeed!

Ok not to panic , we'll just try to go straight back into the garage on my existing tracks I think. Straighten out the wheels , try it in 2nd gear and.... nothing but spinning wheels.. Try starting in 3rd gear - same story but this time the engine sounds like it's actually protesting. At this point I almost decided to say "F*** it!" and leave the car outside , but with more snow coming I figured that wasn't a good idea after all. After brushing some of the snow away around the wheels and sprinkling some snow-melting stuff (that barely works) I try again.

This time i stay on the gas and i manage to inch my way forward but the back end is fishtailing like crazy. As i get closer and closer to the garage door i'm getting more and more sideways and for a minute there I think i'll hit the sides... then FINALLY i manage to straighten it out at the last second and with the momentum i had built up just roll into the garage. My wife is standing there with the classic "you dumbs**t, I told you so!" look... and yeah she was right :)

This really makes me doubt any all-season for any winter driving, but we'll see what we end up with once I get some new wheels on the car.

In short: If you have Eagle RS-A's on your car, take'm off , burn'm and do a dance around them because they are the WORST tires EVER!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Holden Sun-Shade / Roof Spoiler

Always looking for something unique from the Holden site, I had noticed their 'sunshade' a while ago. To me it looked more like a 'roof spoiler' but I guess it was designed to give people in the back a little more shade. (Not like they need it in my car with my 20% tint). Paul from our board at GRRRR8.net (Check out his vendor section!) was kind enough to hook me up with one. It showed up in less than a week all the way from Australia!

Upon closer inspection of the shade it actually turned out that instead of being solid black like I first thought it's actually just very darkly tinted, hence the 'sunshade'. I'd compare it probably to a 15% tint - pretty dark! It comes as one large piece with 2 little brackets you need to attach with some thumbscrews. It attaches to your car with a strong double-sided tape.

To ensure adhesion the instructions say you need to use '3m Primer 94'. 1 little 'ampule' is all you need (costs about a dollar). You just crush the tube between your fingers right behind the brush part to start using it.

After dry-fitting it I applied the primer to the areas on the glass where the double-sided tape would be sitting. Then after waiting 5 minutes I carefully placed the spoiler with some assistance from a buddy and we first secured the brackets, then we peeled off the rest of the backing tape from the main part and pressed down hard to secure it firmly. Then it's a waiting game for about 4 hours so that the tape can fully cure before you drive off.





(Apologies for the bad pictures - dirty car + cell phone pics = not a good combination ;) )

At First I didn't quite know what to make of it visually - it was quite different and I wasn't even sure if I liked it. Now that it's been a couple of days I have gotten more used to it and I actually do like the distinctive look it gives the car. I did notice that along the leading edge of the shade the tape seems to have separated just a little bit (less than or about a millimeter) but it's still on there very secure and at this point it's not budging either way. From inside the car you don't even know it's there, and the 3rd brake light is still very visible.

So if you're looking for something sporty looking to set your car apart from the other G8s this could possibly be an item for you!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Adventures in Tinting - Part III ; Headlights

A while ago I tried tinting my taillights with some film material. I really didn't like how it turned out , but when I applied some of it to my headlight I actually sorta liked the look of it! The only downside was that you could barely see anything at night and just from a 'looks' perspective I actually would've preferred them even darker.

One night I was browsing the Australian Holden site (as you may know the Pontiac G8 is based of a Holden Commodore) and I noticed under the accessories page that they had a headlight protector kit. Instantly a light bulb in my head turned on. If I could tint these covers I could have my lights basically pitch black, and take them off for driving in dark conditions. I contacted Paul (HSV-GTS-300 over on GRRRR8.net) and he hooked me up with a set.

It's a nice quality kit &Installation is a snap. 2 plastic tabs on the bottom and 1 metal hook on top. They go on or off the car in literally 10 seconds. They also have a black Holden logo on them.





I didn't take any pictures of the tinting process since it's much the same as the tail-lights that I did, if not even simpler. Though I have come to the conclusion i'm definitely cursed when it comes to any painting project. I lightly sanded the INSIDE of the covers with 1000 grid, put painters tape on the front to prevent any overspray, whipped out my can of Niteshades and within 2 seconds of starting to use it, it sputtered a few times , spraying erratically and then died on me... Greeaaaat... luckily I had some RC249 'R/C Car window tint' as backup , though that stuff is even runnier than NiteShades!. I just built up the layers till it looked dark enough and let it dry over night.

When not in use I simply stick the covers in the net in the trunk. Fits just great!
Here's the results






Like I mentioned the light output is totally sub-par at this point, but with it being covers you can just pop them off.

Headlights on:


High-Beams on:


Blinkers on - actually looks pretty acceptable for day-driving




Next to some 08's the dealership still has in stock - Makes a nice comparison between the lights


Some more generic shots

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Backup Camera Install

For a while now i've had a cable from Ed (G8V8 on Forum.GRRRR8.net) that would allow video input into the radio-head in the G8. This is a perfect way to get a backup camera on screen in the car. Ed had bought a nice camera on EBay that wasn't too bulky looking, but when I went looking for it I ended up with basically the same one but slightly different connectors: this one.


Instead of coming with a 32 foot 'all-in-one' cable mine came with just the cam that had seperate connectors for Video, Power & a Left/Right Flip option so you can see the image either like you're looking in your rearview mirror or as if you're turning your head around. After Having tried both settings I 'think' i have decided on having it like the rearview mirror - just seems more natural that way.



I noticed there were several plastic plugs/fasteners in the trunk already so I just took out the middle one and enlarged the hole just enough so I could squeeze the connectors through one by one. Ofcourse I also put a grommet on there so the sharp edges wouldn't be cutting into the wires. Here's a picture before the grommet went on:



Then the fun started of routing the cables. I had bought a 12 foot Cable with RCA connectors from radioshack (Male-Male) and then a 6 foot extension (Male-Female) This proved to be just about the right length all together. I dropped the extension through the trunk lid so it came out where the other wires run bottom right, but since I didn't feel like cutting off the connectors I didn't snake it through the rubber hose that's there. I just wrapped it around it and into the trunk.

For the Front I had to take the side panels off the radio and decided to even take off the glove compartment for easier access. once I had all the panels off I simply dropped in the plug & cable that ed had provided, and hooked up my 12 foot cable. I then ran it all along the mid section and took a shortcut underneath the front passenger seat and then ran it under the trim by the doors, underneath part of the backseat, up the side where there is an access area so you can get into the trunk. Not the best looking way (can see the cable under the chair) but I can always tweak it later. Just wanted it IN ASAP! ;)


For power I soldered some wires to the provided plug and then ran them through the trunklid as well to the trunk and tapped into some wires that seemed to have 12 V on them ( a black & brown one in the connecter that goes to the taillights etc) Turns out this is tied to the normal light operation so I guess I Just need to at least have my DRL's on for power. I may try to find a permanent 12V line, but this is fine for now. Fun to look at cars behind you when you're in a drive-thru haha

ONLY real issue I have is the no video while moving crap.. mine cuts out at a whopping 2!!!! yes TWO miles per hour... what the hell?!?! Guess i'll be backing up WAAAY slow ...

Here's the result

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Adventures in Tinting - Part II

After my failed attempt with the film and seeing how rippin 6's had his professionally done to be TOTALLY BLACK i decided I needed something a little more drastic and get that same result.
Seems like the most common method was to get VHT Niteshades so i ordered 2 cans of it from a local place and 2 cans of Upol #1 clear-coat which from what I had read was a lot better than most any other and dried pretty quickly too.

Goodbye normal clear taillights!


To start with I made sure I had all the supplies I needed:

  • 10mm Socket & wrench
  • 1 'big' can of VHT Niteshades ( just used a bit of the 2nd one)
  • 1 can of Upol #1 (hey at least I got spares :) )
  • 1000 grit sandpaper
  • 1500 grit sandpaper

Obviously the first step is to get the taillights out. This process is actually very straightforward.
Simply remove the plastic section that covers the trunk lock by unscrewing the 4 hooks that are used to hold the trunk-net in place and then it lifts right up.

After that it's simply a matter of popping out the push pins that hold the trunk liner up so you can get to the lights. It may help to take out the trunk bottom liner since that tends to get in the way.



Once you see the lights there is a large white connector that disconnects by pressing the center tab.


After they lights are disconnected it's a simple matter of using the 10 mm socket to undo the 3 nuts that hold the light in place.


Ok now we get to the real work: First I used 1000 grid wet sandpaper to scuff up the surface of the light. Talk about a cringe worthy moment.. There's no going back now!

I then taped them up with some old wrapping paper to protect the rest of the housing from the paint.


Now came the part where I screwed up:

a) I did it outside (well i was 'kicked out' ;) ) and it was a little windy
b) I was trying to rush it.
c) At this point in my life I should've learned that I do NOT have any painting skills what-so-ever, even if it's spray paint ;)

Whatever you do ; DO NOT RUSH THESE NEXT STEPS

So on go the first coat(s) of Niteshades. I did two real light misting to avoid runs. Really it's not that noticable if anything it almost seems like stock again minus the scratches.


Just keep adding layers when the previous ones dry (5-10 minutes) spraying from about a foot away. Niteshades is runny stuff and you don't want to spray from too close !

If you get runs wait for it to dry and then sand it down. I was rushing and sometimes the paint wasn't 100% dry.. OUCH.. big mess!

On the left you can see one with probably a good 5-6 layers on it while i had to resand the one on the right because of major drips.


Both are looking pretty dark/about the same now. REALLY if you can try to spray both exactly the same in the same pass. I was an idiot and didn't - so now one light is slightly darker than my other (you can only tell with my lights on).


After it was all dark enough (finished 1 can of niteshades) I sanded again but with 1000 and then 1500 grid. Notice the spots where I screwed up with my runs. Was too rushed to try to fix it anymore (once again. Don't be in a rush when doing this)

Then the clear coat went on - same process : 2 thin mist coats and then just piling on the layers every 5-10 minutes. Once I got about 5-6 thick layers on it was good enough and i let it dry and then sanded it with 1500 sandpaper again. Notice all the runs from not taking my time!! (yeah it looks like CRAP right now)


After putting them back into the car the process of cleaning up the mess started.
First a layer of 3m Rubbing compound, Then scratch-X and finally a couple of coats of wax.
I HIGHLY recommend a buffer for this. I did it by hand and it took forever , and the entire time I was thinking I had just gone and ruined my taillights because they wouldn't buff out.
(wouldn't you think the same seeing these? btw my car is panther black metallic - the flash just makes it look gray in certain shots)



After taking a break though (rest of the day because I was so depressed thinking for sure I had ruined my lights! haha) I really got into and buffed them out to a nice shine using a LOT of rubbing compound & scratch-X. Took a while but the result is 'acceptable'. Here's the final result (Yeah I know - i need to take some better pictures that don't look so dark or make the car look gray! )




Tail lights on:



Blinkers on:


Brakes On:







With the lights off they basically look BLACK except when the sun is right on them, then you can see some red from the actual light shining through. With the lights on, during the daytime if it's really sunny sometimes it's a bit hard to see the blinkers (because I really overdid it with the niteshades - could've stopped 2 layers sooner and still have it be the same darkness At night though (should take some pics) the lights are quite bright enough and everything shows up just fine.

I MAY one day get them professionally done instead but for now i'm quite happy with how they turned out even though i had some moments where I thought for sure they were ruined.