I’m pretty sure you can tell I’ve posted absolutely nothing in 2020 thus far. It’s not that I’ve nothing to say, rather life has been non-stop stress and challenges. If it’s not the DOE and their destructive wage garnishment, it’s the foreclosure. If it’s not the foreclosure, it’s personal challenges with friends and family. The two light spots are my wonderful girlfriend and my pets...err, vehicles. So, what’s been happening with my vehicles?

Passat TDI


I’ve driven nearly 4,000 miles in this beast and keep falling more and more in love with it. Think VW is now my second fav manufacturer right behind smart. I’ve also mastered how to keep it out of limp mode. I can actually run it to redline, I just have to shift quickly and get to 2k RPM or below or else it’ll go into limp. Thus, the car is definitely daily-able, just it won’t do things at a quick pace. Still, this car has basically already paid for itself!

I finally got my VCDS tool working and it’s confirmed one of my two theories. I figured the car either had a vacuum leak or a boost leak. I got codes for underboost and the dreaded P0101. Now normally I’d be scared of a worn cam, however after some conversations I think I’ve narrowed it down to boost leak:


— I can hear the turbo “wooshing”. I’ve been advised that unless there has been modifications to the car (it’s stock aside from an EGR delete), the turbo’s really quiet. If there’s a pronounced woosh or hiss, it’s probably a boost leak.

— While I have leaky oil lines, there’s oil spray in the engine bay. I’ve read and have been told that a boost leak can cause this. A boost leak can also cause excessive smoke, though I think my car’s limp mode kicks in before that can be the case. Boost leaks can also cause the P0101 error.


My plan for attack is to warm up the engine, put it in Park, then have someone rev the engine to close to 2k. I’ll hear the woosh and hopefully be able to find where the leak is. Once the leak is resolved I can get accurate MAF data.

The car has occasionally been throwing trans codes when it’s both really cold and really moist outside. No sunroof, other drains look clear, and the footwell is only minorly damp (looks like the PO got a DEEP cleaning and the carpet pad got wet and never dried). TCM box is dry and the TCM itself looks to be in stellar condition. Still, I’ll be sealing it up as a just in case. I’ll be replacing the auto shifter mat as the plastic is pretty brittle.


In other words, a project I feel I can easily handle and will be moderately fun! Plus, the car’s not stranded while I work on it.

451 smart


While helping a friend diagnose an occasional battery light on his 7.3 Powerstroke something hit me: My smart’s alternator may not actually be dead. The guy I hired to fix my car thought I wanted him to replace the alternator, so he tried removing it. After realizing I only wanted belts done he buttoned the car up and put on the belt. Maaaaaybe he didn’t reconnect the alternator. When it warms up outside I’ll check.


New clutch cable! I’ve smoothed out the sharp edges on the lever and this particular cable has better protective wrapping. Hopefully it’s enough. I’ll be on two wheels again once I find the time to renew the registration sticker.



I should soon be receiving two free scooters. One is a friend’s Honda Spree. It’s pretty clean. The other is my old 150cc Ruckus. I’m getting it back, for free as well. The Spree just needs a carb clean and a battery, the Ruck already runs.


That leaves us with the Vespa...


This project is proving to be biting off more than I want to chew on a Gambler vehicle. I finally popped open the front compartment only to discover the manual seat release to be obliterated. So now I need to slim jim my way in. I took inventory of what needs to be done, at minimum:

1. New battery.

2. New throttle cable.

3. Cleaned carb.

4. Drained fuel.

5. Dashboard sorted.

6. New CDI (without immobilizer).

7. New ignition.

8. Swap on the wheels from the pile of spare parts.

9. Fix the seat release or break the seat latch.

My lack of progress is largely a time problem. With all the aforementioned busy stuff going on in my life, the Vespa’s on the backburner.


Since the Northwest Indiana Fambler I’ve been given some decent offers for it...all of them more than I paid for it. At first I denied the offers because this is supposed to be my ride for Tennessee Redemption in March...but with 2 scoots heading my way that need much less work, I don’t feel much motivation to finish this.

So, might as well turn this into a Stonks opportunity.

GY6 already runs, it just needs tires. It’s also just a Chinese scoot, so perfect for offroading in Tennessee without guilt. I’ll sell the Vespa and play with the Spree for a month or two, then sell it, too. Monies!


453 smart


The most reliable 4 wheeled vehicle in the stable, I took it on a fun 600 mile round trip road trip to Hell, Michigan and back. We conquered a snowstorm that left at least a few dozen cars in roadside ditches. Gave it a proper pampering when we got home.


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