Me, my Challenger, and the “Mod Bug.”

A while back I was bitten by the “Mod bug” on my car, fairly soon after I drove it off the lot actually. The modifications started out small, cheap, and simple. A drop in K&N filter, dash mat, a Charger air tube to get rid of that stupid “intake silencer,” and durable floor mats. After a time I became irritated at the skip shift feature on my transmission, so I started looking for a way around that. I found a 20.00 resister and wire appropriately called a “Skip Shift Eliminator.” That was ordered and plugged in to my manual transmission right away.

Right now you are probably wondering “What the heck is skip shift?!” My challenger is a 6 speed manual transmission. As an “emissions feature” Dodge, Chevy and other car companies have developed the skip shift; from 19 and 21 MPH, under certain RPM load and I think sometimes certain temperatures, when you attempt to shift out of first and in to second, the computer automatically locks out 2nd and 3rd gear, forcing you to shift in to 4th. This is supposed to bring down emissions under heavy stop and go traffic. It’s annoying.

The skip shift was my last modification for a while; then I needed new tires. Of course that is a perfect time for new rims too! After that I was way too broke to buy anything else. This last year I had a little money saved, refinanced that car for a lower payment and lower interest, and my bumper to bumper warranty expired. A voice in my head cried out LET THE MODS COMMENCE!

The first mod last year was the intake with a Cervinis Ram Air Intake. I took out the existing air filter box, the insulation material under the hood, and the fake hood scoops. I installed a different air box with a conical filter, functional hood scoops, and a panel under the hood with ducting to rout the air from the hood scoops to the air box. When you close the hood, an opening in the panel where the ducting comes together seals to the top of the air box, at least in theory. It seems to work as advertised, but the fit and finish of the air box leave a lot to be desired. I have read of other people installing a Mopar CAI in the air boxes place because it perfectly seals with the Cervinis Ram Air panel. I don’t want to spend another 350.00 on the Mopar CAI though.

At the same time I modified the brakes. Early on I warped my front rotors, which I have since found out is a common problem on the 3.6 SE and 5.7 R/T Challengers. The 6.4 SRT Challengers have upgraded Brembo brakes and they don’t warp. I installed drilled and slotted R1 Performance Rotors all the way around the car and I paired them with HAWK HPS pads. The HAWK’s dust quite a bit and they are semi metallic, so they squeal under low speed braking. However, they stop a lot better than the OEM ones.

After that I put on a Catch Can. A Catch can is basically a canister filter that goes between the EGR valve and the intake manifold. It’s function is to filter out the oil that is the in the gasses that pass through the EGR valve and in to the manifold. These generation three Hemi engines lose a lot of oil in these gasses and it really gunks up the valves.

Just to make things look pretty I put stainless steel braided lines between the EGR valve, the Catch Can, and the manifold. It looks good, but now the engine cover doesn’t quite sit on right.

Next up was a Christmas present to myself; a Barton Industries Short Throw Shifter. I was going to go the traditional route and get a Hurst, but all the reviews were really bad. Evidently Hurst now farms their stuff out to China and the quality isn’t what it used to be. I received my Barton right before Christmas and of course I had to put it in that night. Same night I was supposed to meet my fiancée (then girlfriend) and the girls for dinner. No problem I thought, I read the instructions and watched the YouTube video, this shouldn’t take long.

Two hours later the sun was down, I couldn’t see, and my fiancée had to come over and hold a flashlight for me. She was of course freezing, miserable, cussing me, cussing my car, and not understanding why I was putting in this short throw shifter right now. My response: “because I want it in right now.” She was less than thrilled with me.

I had to re learn to shift my car. Strong centering spring want to bring the shifter back to the center of neutral as soon as you bring it out of a gear. I really had to concentrate to make sure I was staying in 1st and 2nd, not 3rd and 4th. Barton also claims that the shift throw is reduced 40%, I for one believe it.

As a nod to the old school shifters, I went with the classic white shift knob. It looks like an out of place cue ball in my black car, but I love its uniqueness.

The next modification came curtesy of my fiancée; as a gift she purchased a Diablo Trinity Tuner. She informed me that she was going to buy it, and I of course became excited. The tuner actually reprograms the car computer, giving you more performance, gas mileage, etc. A good human tuner can actually take the Diablo Trinity, put your car on a dyno, and give your car a personal tune. This would give you much more horse power and torque vs what the “canned tune” that is already on the Diablo will. Of course, the canned tune is a vast improvement over the stock tune.

My fiancée informed me that she was going to purchase this for me, so I of course jumped the gun and went to a website that specializes in these parts and ordered an A-pillar gauge pod mount and a Trinity adapter. The A-pillar gauge pod mount replaces the cover on your cars A-pillar with one that has a cavity built in to it to mount a gauge. My plan was to permanently mount the Trinity on the A-pillar as it has all kinds of cool gauges, a virtual drag tree, shift light, etc. When I was searching for the gauge pod I found a regular one, and a “Trinity optimized one.” Of course the optimized one was only available through one vendor, was a couple of bucks more than the regular one, and the shipping was 30.00. I went with another vendor on the regular gauge pod to pay a cheaper price and free shipping.

I received the gauge pod about and then the Trinity. I hooked the trinity up to my car, put in the canned 91 octane tune and immediately felt a difference in the throttle response and available power throughout the RPM range. I then customized the tune by making my throttle 20% more sensitive. As Challengers and Chargers have electronic throttles with no throttle linkage of any kind, you can do this. The whole car is basically drive-by-wire.

Once I was satisfied with the throttle sensitivity, I proceeded to put on the A-pillar gauge pod mount. I of course find that the gauge pod is so low on the pillar that it is impossible to correctly mount the trinity. I called up the vendor and they tell me I really should have gone with the Trinity optimized gauge pod from the other vendor. I can send their gauge pod back, but it is a 15% restocking fee, so I won’t get my full 230.00 back. I pull it out, send it back, and order the one I should have ordered. Instead of saving myself 35.00, I ended up costing myself about 50.00 more.

The new gauge pod is in, the trinity is mounted, and it looks good.

Next up was a ported throttle body. OEM throttle bodies are 80mm; I went with a throttle body ported out to 87mm. I went with what I was recommended by the company. I’m not sure if it is doing much of anything HP or Torque wise, but the throttle feels even more consistent now. Either that or it is my imagination trying to justify the purchase. I’m told it will really make a difference if I put on a better exhaust manifold, which I plan on doing some day.

At the moment, sitting in my garage are a set of new spark plugs, and a 180 degree thermostat. The new thermostat is so that I don’t burn my fan up with the new 91 octane tune as the tune changes the fan settings. The Hemi engines are prone to heat soak too, especially out here in the Mojave. A cooler thermostat definitely won’t hurt.

The spark plugs need to go in soon too as I am at 38,000 miles and they are supposed to be changed out at every 30,000 miles.

On order, and probably the last things I will buy for my car this year, are strut braces. They serve to stiffen the suspension on the car and help with body roll and flex. I bought one for the front that mounts in the engine compartment, and an arched one for the back, that mounts in the trunk. They have better ones for the rear, but they take up more trunk room than I want to give up.

What’s all this leading to and why are you doing this you may ask? Well, more modifications! Each mod builds on the next and improving performance. I plan on a whole suspension kit, stainless steel brake lines, shorty headers, better cat back exhaust, and someday a high performance cam and cylinder heads. I live in California so I can’t put high flow catalytic converters on, or I would.

During all of this, I do plan on driving some time trials, the Mojave Mile, autocross, etc. Although I have to say that this big beast of a car on an autocross, amongst Miata’s, Evos, BMW’s, (etc.) will be interesting.

Also…well… I just want to. What better reason should I have?

Categories: Cars, Life, money | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Commander, Naval Installations Command. A redundantly named organization of cheap jerks. A rant.

Normally I don’t like to talk or write about work, because it can get me in trouble. However, I need to rant about this.

I work for Commander, Naval Installations Command (CNIC) under Navy Region South West (CNRSW). CNIC is a bunch of cheap jerks.

Last May I went on travel to Yorktown, Virginia. Booking my flight from LAX to Virginia, I had to take the most direct and economical route. This ended up being LAX to Charlotte, a layover in Charlotte, and then a commuter plane from Charlotte to Newport News, Va. Then a 15 minute drive in a rental car to Yorktown Naval Station where I stayed at a horrible Navy Lodge. No big deal, right? Unfortunately due to flights in and out of Charlotte this left very little in the way of choosing flights out of LAX to Charlotte. Their is a 6am flight, an 1130am flight, and an evening flight.

The 6am flight puts you in to Charlotte around 1pm East Coast time, the flight out of Charlotte puts you in to Newport News around 3pm. Get your luggage, rental car, etc. You are in your hotel around 4pm.

An 1130 flight out of LAX will ultimately put you in Newport News at approximately 9:00PM, putting you in your hotel room at about 10:00pm…but wait…the rental car terminal isn’t open at that time. So if you take that flight, you have to take a cab to the gate of the base in Yorktown and then walk to the Navy Lodge with all your luggage. Not a great option.

The evening flight puts you in to Newport News at around 6am the next day, and your class starts at 7am. An even worse option.

Sounds like the only reasonable thing is to leave from LAX at 6am, right?

LAX is 158 miles from my residence and is the closest large airport. On a good 5 Freeway/405 Freeway traffic day, this is a three hour trip. On a bad traffic day it can be up to six hours. For now we will say that it is a good traffic day and it’s only a three hour trip. When you add the TSA recommended two hour before flight arrival time, this makes it a five hour trip. You are taking a rental car to LAX, so you will have to gas the car up, return it to the appropriate rental agency, and then take a shuttle to the terminal; this can add up to another hour. Taking all this in to account, if a flight leaves LAX at 0600 hours, you have to leave here around 1am to make a 6am flight. All in all, you will be traveling for about 12 or 13 hours by the time you reach your destination.

Not horrible…..but the Government travel regulations state that you are not supposed to travel outside your normal work times, nor are you supposed to travel at unreasonable hours. Unreasonable hours are Midnight to 6am.

My supervisor and fiancé did not want me leaving at 1am. So I tried getting a hotel near LAX the night before. My travel orders were denied because of this. Instead of fighting it, I just left at 1am. No big deal to me.

My supervisor a co worker have to make a similar trip to Knoxville Tennessee in a couple of weeks and they are running in to the same issue. Leave here at 2am to get in to Knoxville at a reasonable time, or leave here later in the morning, gamble on LA traffic and leave LAX around noon to get to Knoxville at 10pm. They tried to get authorization for a hotel at LAX the night before. Room cost, with both of them sharing a room, a total of about 110.00. CNIC, located in Washington DC, said no.

We have to have our travel reviewed by people in San Diego, but approved by Approving Officials (AO’s) in Washington DC. These people in DC say No, a hotel is not authorized the night before, it is against travel regulations, leave later. My supervisor told them if they they leave later, they are getting in to an unfamiliar city at night, can’t get a rental car, etc. Washington DC AO’s basically said “tuff.”

If you compare this to another Command here, Naval Air Weapons Center Weapons Division (NAWCWD), it doesn’t make sense. NAWCWD employees ROUTINELY get rooms at LAX the night before an early travel and their AO’s are right here on station. Their travel people state that getting a room the night before is NOT against regulations, and is a prudent safety measure. They also state that most other Commands frown upon what CNIC is doing.

I wanted to know if this sort of travel was truly against regulations, so I emailed the GSA and Travel Officials, the people that wrote the travel regulations for all of the Dept. of Defense. First off, they were baffled that any installation is so remotely located, they didn’t understand the situation at first. Once they understood the situation, they basically said that it wasn’t against the travel regulations to stay the night before, you can’t be made to travel outside your normal work times or during unreasonable hours, but the authorization is at the AO’s discretion and they just need to be make to understand the situation.

The AO’s response?  “No.”

So, these AO’s in Washington DC are willing to violate Government regulations on travel and safety to basically save 100.00. A bunch of cheap jerks.

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Sometimes we wonder

Originally posted on Just Cruisin 2:

rights

A friend shared an article that pushed my buttons.
It was on the ABC News website and talked
of how and Iowa widow had around $19,000
seized from her account because it wasn’t deposited
right.

Because of a law that doesn’t allow large sums
of money to be deposited in amounts less than
$10,000 this poor woman is a criminal. This is to
help investigators track large sums of cash tied
to criminal activity they say. But has it gotten
out of hand?

In seven years the IRS seized $242 million, a
third simply because less than $10,000 was
deposited. About half was returned after those
who lost the money challenged the IRS.

So if I had $20,000 and deposited it in 4 banks
I would be a criminal, but if I deposited it in
2 banks I would be a pillar of the community? How
crazy is that! If…

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To Be Fast or To Be Efficient

desertrat31:

Had to reblog this. If nothing else, just for the last line.

Originally posted on Build, Drive, Shift:

Since I began reading, learning driving and obsessing over cars I was told one solid point existed. You can be fast or you can get good gas mileage.

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Gun Facts

desertrat31:

I had a request to reblog this.

Originally posted on desertskys:

Before we get in to this topic I request that any comments made be civil and rational. I cited my sources the best I could. It has been a long while since I wrote anything like this.

When the news popped up about Sandyhook I was just as shocked and saddened as everyone else. While I have no children of my own I have been around a lot of kids, I worked at a kindergarten through 5th grade daycare for five years, I have a wonderful girlfriend with two beautiful daughters,  (2 and almost 4), friends with children, nieces, and a nephew.  All I could think of was those kids, the hell the families and first responders were going through, and then the potential political and cultural ramifications started hitting me. 

Sure enough, I was right. Almost immediately gun control and gun abolitionists came out of the wood work…

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A visit from the dead

The dead came to visit me the other night. As I lay in my half awake, half asleep state from possibly hearing a noise, I felt them rush into the room, a wave of pressure and fury. I stayed still, eyes closed, refusing to acknowledge their angry presence. If you don’t communicate with them they can’t hurt you, right? I could feel them watching me, waiting with malevolent and hungry intent. Part of me wanted to grab the 45 on the nightstand, another part of me said “stay still, the gun won’t matter anyway.”

Then all at once they were gone. The dead travel fast.

Next thing I know my alarm is going off and I am waking up with what feels like a sinus infection. Was it a dream brought on by my illness ? Was it real? Am I just crazy?

Categories: Supernatural | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Boron Bobcats

I lived in the town of Boron from the day I was born until one month before my 16th birthday. My mom was married and the stepfather had a house in Ridgecrest, an hour away, so we had to move. I have lived in Ridgecrest the last 17.5 years, longer than I lived in Boron. However, when people ask me where I am from, my hometown, where I grew up…I tell them Boron. Don’t get me wrong, Boron isn’t a treasure. In fact, at the moment, I wouldn’t live there unless I absolutely had to. Just something about growing up in that tiny mining town of 2,000 people worms its way in to your psyche and you will forever be from there.

Growing up in Boron it is pretty much expected you will be a Boron Bobcat and play some sort of sport. If you are a boy it is pretty much a given you will play football. Not many of us didn’t. Boron was a football legacy town. My moms generation won all kinds of football championships, and the graduating classes of 94 through about 2000 were the sons of that generation. Those years were full of powerhouse football teams. My moms generation were all the sons and daughters of transplanted Texans and Oklahomans. When I went to school, many of my friends would go back to Texas and Oklahoma to visit grandparents. The town basically had a Varsity Blues/Friday Night Lights feel to it when I was in Jr. High and High School.

Coming home from my senior trip towards the last couple weeks of High School, the Burroughs High School bus stopped in Kramer Junction (just outside of Boron) for gas, snacks, and a pee break. I got off the bus and ran in to a few friends a had gone to high school with. We chatted for about five or ten minutes and then I got back on the bus. When I sat down I noticed that a bunch of the Burroughs football players were staring at me. I of course thought I was about to get my butt kicked. I ended up becoming a minor celebrity for the next hour on the drive home, just because one of my friends was the guy that almost broke the California Interscholastic Federations High School Football Interception Record. Boron football was known outside of Boron.

I was never able to play football like most of my friends. I was never an athletic kid and I grew up pretty poor, so my mom didn’t have money to put me in youth sports. I didn’t have a dad to teach me to play football like most of the other kids. So, I watched from the sidelines and ended up getting teased and bullied. Until I joined wrestling and most of the football team watched me pin a kid. That’s another story though.

These days Boron can barely field a football team. The town has shrunk and is more impoverished than ever, resulting in low school enrollment and attendance. They are  currently the smallest 11 man football team in the state. However, they just accomplished something huge; they won a national contest to go to the Super Bowl. Articles about the team going to this years Super Bowl have been written in various sources and far more eloquently than I can manages Here are two:

http://www.kibskbov.com/boron-football/

http://usatodayhss.com/2015/small-town-high-school-football-team-wins-nfl-contest-headed-to-super-bowl-xlix

Some  good videos:

http://www.bakersfieldnow.com/sports/hsfootball/Boron-Bobcats-could-go-to-the-Super-Bowl–284277651.html

http://theavtimes.com/2015/01/09/congratulations-to-the-boron-bobcats/

And finally an article that was written in a paper, that I can’t find online, except reprinted on a facebook page. I will copy and paste it here:

BORON HAS CAPTURED U.S.’s HEART
By Brian Golden, Antelope Valley Press

It’s simply the most famous bus ride in Boron history.

No, it’s not “Selma” in shoulder pads.

No schools are being desegregated.

No new employees are being militarily escorted to work at the Borax plant.

But make no mistake. The whole nation will be watching.

They’re the ones who demanded it.

Boron didn’t just win a national competition when its saga won the “Together We Make Football” contest on NFL.com in conjunction with Super Bowl XLIX a week from today in Glendale, Arizona.

It won a nation’s heart.

Truth is, everyone in Boron, and the rest of us in the Valley, could have stuffed the electronic ballot box 24/7, and it would have been fewer votes than could be cast on the westside of New York City, or in any ballot-stuffing operation in Chicago, or along the 610 Loop in Houston.

From the shores of New England to Puget Sound, from the frozen lakes of Minnesota to the Rio Grande River in south Texas, Americans of every background rallied to Boron’s cause.

Of course, the brilliant cinematography of NFL films played no small part.

The aerial shot of seemingly endless miles of scrub suddenly transforming into an emerald meadow of manhood was one of the most powerful visuals in America in 2014.

But Boron’s “Together We Make Football” mantra wasn’t as much a statement of where, or how, or why, as who.

It is who Boron is.

America met a people that has virtually none of the superficialities that allegedly confer sophistication on a community; no mall, no movie theater, no skateboard shop.

And it’s no big deal.

Maybe Boron clutched America’s imagination to its bosom like a football squeezed to his chest by a cannonballing Bobcats running back over the goal line, it was because the USA needed to know there are still places like Boron.

Places where the superficial, rightly, still defers to the sturdy. In privileged precincts across the fruited plain, they no doubt pity Boron for what it doesn’t have.

It feels so superior to what they really feel – envy for generations seeking excellence, not excuses.

Which brings us to the greatest irony of all on this Super Bowl week unlike any in the Valley’s history.

This week, it’s the effete, the privileged, the condescending quarters of the republic who truly DO envy Boron for something that it has.

Thanks to “Together We Make Football,” the Boron Bobcats make this the first Super Bowl with three teams in it.

Courtesy of the NFL, they’re being transported to the Phoenix area on a luxury bus and being put up in a five-star hotel for their Arizona stay.

They’ll meet both teams. They’ll meet NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. They’ll be stunned, absolutely stunned, by the people they’ve seen on television for years who will be lining up to meet them.

They’ll have an entire hour devoted to their story on national television Sunday.

Not because of a killing spree.

Not because of an alleged UFO encounter.

If football is America, and Boron is Football, Boron is America.
On what has long been described as America’s “Midwinter Fourth of July,” they may be the most Americana phenomenon of all in this celebration of America.

The late Gerald Small of Desert (1983-84 Miami Dolphins) and de-Shawn Shead of Highland (2013-14 Seattle Seahawks) are the Valley football sons ever to play on the field at the Super Bowl.

Next Sunday in University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, the Boron Bobcats will become the first Valley TEAM to walk on the field at the Super Bowl.

Don’t be surprised if Seattle Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll comes over to say hello.

He was the only one who knew that a rickety old school bus, not the luxury coachliner headed east this week, wound its lonely way west across the desert prairie to Isabella for a game against Kern Valley in September, 2008.

The stunned Bobcats had lost teammate Vinny Rodriguez to fatal head trauma the week before.

They voted to play the Kern Valley game to honor their fallen teammate.

The news got back to Carroll, then coaching the top-ranked USC Trojans, through a Valley Press story shown to him by one of his secretaries, who happened to live in Palmdale.

In the middle of nowhere, 185 miles north of Heritage Hall, Boron coach Todd Fink’s cellphone rang up in the front of the bus. He walked back to talk to his players a few minutes later.

“Do you know who that was?” Fink asked. “That was the coach of the No. 1-ranked team in College Football, Pete Carroll at USC, and he wanted you to know how proud he is of you, how much he admires you for honoring Vinny this way.”

So much has changed since 2008. Carroll can become just the seventh coach ever to win back-to-back Super Bowls.

This time, he’s not only the only one proud of that bus departing Boron.

And obviously, Boron’s not in the middle of nowhere anymore.

No longer is it a distant place on a map.

This week, it’s also a place in the heart.

AMERICA’S HEART.

Categories: Life | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Butcher Billy Brilliantly Mashes Up Marvel’s “Civil War” With DC’s “The Dark Knight”

desertrat31:

I had to re-blog this. Too awesome to not.

Originally posted on blurppy:

Marvel’sCivil War” and DC’s game changing story by Frank Miller, “The Dark Knight” are two of the most popular story lines in comics.  Zach Snyder is in the process of bringing Miller’s story to the big screen and Marvel is laying the groundwork to bring “Civil War” to theaters in May of 2016.

tumblr_ney70wam2e1sa2z61o2_1280

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Well Brazilian artist Billy Butcher, has taken both of these insanely popular properties and created something highly desirable in its own rights.  Titled “Marvel’s The Dark Knight Civil War”, Billy has put Captain America and Iron Man in the pivotal roles played by Batman and Superman in Miller’s “The Dark Knight” storyline.

batman-superman-fight-the-dark-knight-returnsScreen Shot 2015-01-27 at 9.11.05 PMScreen Shot 2015-01-27 at 9.11.48 PM

Butcher Billy has taken three memorable scenes from Miller’s “The Dark Knight” and reimagined them with two of Marvel’s greatest heroes.

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Our fingers are crossed that he puts these up for sale at some point…

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Dodge Charger 1969.

Originally posted on themarquis:

women They did not find the car’s door.

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Working writers block

I have to occasionally write safety related articles for the base newspaper. This time around I have been tasked with writing a short traffic safety article encompassing two different topics. The first topic is parking lot etiquette and safety. This particular topic is near and dear to my heart, as my first beloved vehicle (1987 Bronco II) was totaled in a parking lot by an inattentive and speeding teenage girl.

The second topic is actually multi-topic, encompassing the new turning lane at the front gate, turning right on red, and appropriate flow of traffic. Luckily I had a police officer send me some stuff from the California Vehicle Code.

So here I sit…writing this instead. I have been staring at a blank Word Document for about the last hour, trying to find a way to get motivated to write this article and a way to just start it. Sadly, I may just plagiarize a couple insurance articles. When you work for the government and write articles such as this, you can take from whatever sources you want, without quoting and you can’t be accused of plagiarizing anything….because you work for the government. Their is no plagiarism within the government.

Categories: Work, Writing | 3 Comments

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