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Saturday, December 31, 2011

A New Year, are You ready for it?

Happy New Year ladies and gentlemen! I am currently spending the New Years in Taiwan. I'll be heading back home in a couple of days, but it has been a blast here. I haven't forgotten about you guys, and I've done some substantial filming while I was here. I will be posting a special episode for you guys when I have finished editing it. Hopefully you guys will get to see how great Taiwan is, and if you guys have never been, I would highly recommend you all to spend your next vacation here.

For now, I have some pictures for you guys, so enjoy them, and see you all in the New Year!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Merry Christmas from Machine Zealots

It's been an extremely cold winter, and working on the car has been much harder, so I've been taking it easy. In the mornings, the car door is frozen so badly that you can't even open the door.

Anyway, there are three days left until Christmas, so on behalf of the Machine Zealots team, have a Merry Christmas! See you guys in the new year!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Pit Stop

Due to weather, personal business, and work, Machine Zealots will be taking a short break from uploading videos for the next couple of weeks. We are planning on airing new episodes in the early months of 2012. However, during this time, we will still be shooting and editing videos for next year. This downtime is beneficial for us to plan out episodes, and generate better content. Hopefully, those who enjoy watching these videos will be patient for the upcoming season.

If anything exciting happens between now and 2012, I will continue to post in the blog. If you haven't joined the Facebook Page, or subscribed to the Youtube Channel, please do so. This way, you can keep up to date with the most recent stories, and it helps us out tremendously. For those of you who have already done this, we thank you for your continued loyalty and support.

Jagan and Puyang's cars parked away.

Red lights, ready for more interior conversions.

Just an update for those who have been following for the past month or so, you should have noticed that I've gone a bit crazy over converting the interior lights to illuminate red. The reason is, I've been saving up for some bigger mods for next year. Lights are cheap, easy to mod, and look great if done properly; the perfect modification. These lights as seen above are going to be used for the HVAC on the STI. A full video will be made, so if you are eager to see this, be patient. ;)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Converting the Lamco Boost Gauge

Okay, I'm going to get straight to it. This mod did not turn out as well as I had hoped. Yes, it bridges the colors displayed on the dials, but it definately lowers the visibility of the boost gauge needle during night time driving. However, you get used to the low light after a few weeks, and the boost gauge will be legible again.

If you plan on taking this boost gauge apart, I would suggest you solder on some new brighter LEDs to make it worth your while. I've read online that people have done this mod with a brighter LED, and it's supposed to look a lot better. I might try this when I have some more time.

Another note is that if you have the older STIs, your Lamco boost gauge will be illuminated by a #2723 bulb with a blue cover. You just simply remove the gauge from the pod, and twist out the light bulb.

For the 2006+ Subaru STI, our Lamco gauges are illuminated by a tiny yellow LED, soldered meticulously onto a small circuit board. I decided to use plastic colored overlays to change the color of the LED, because this is 100% reversible. It is held on by some clear silicone, which can stay on the LED for years to come, and can be easily peeled off if you want to revert to stock. I plan on using this boost gauge for a while, but possibly change to nicer gauges when I go Stage 2.

All in all, this mod was a fun and free mod for me. However, to say that this mod was worth the time is completely in the eye of the beholder. Eitherway, now you know how to do this, have fun!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

German Castrol Syntec

If you are a car enthusiast, you have probably read about motor oil at some point. Which brand makes the best oil? Should I use synthetic oil or not? What grade of oil is best for my car? These are just some of the questions people constantly ask. I'm no motor oil expert, but I do trust BITOG (Bob is the oil guy) because he has taken so much time to experiment, test, and write about different oils. If you don't know him, please go to his website, and learn all there is to learn about motor oil.

With that being said, the choice of oil for my next oil change is based on BITOG and the recommendations of thousands of automotive enthusiasts: Introducing Castrol Syntec 0w30, made in Germany. (A.K.A. German Castrol or GC)

Oil on the left is made in Germany, and oil on the right is made in the U.S.A.

Look carefully at the back. It has to say "Made in Germany". No exceptions.

If it says "Made in the U.S.A.", this won't be the oil everyone is raving about.

Both of these are German Castrol. On the left is the new GC blend, the oil is gold in color. The one on the right is older GC blend, the oil is dark green in color. Blending the two together, if you somehow own both, is completely alright.

Some of the benefits people have found using German Castrol are: Increased fuel economy, improved speed and acceleration, smoother cold starts, and a quieter engine all together. Honestly I can't wait to try this oil, I've already used Mobil 1 and American Castrol Edge in the past, so I should be able to compare the oils. I'll tell you guys more about that later.

I know I've said that I'm taking it slow on spending on mods this season, but I'm actually suprised there is still so much to do, even if you force yourself on a budget. Here are some of the things you guys may see in the next couple of weeks on the Youtube channel!

STI OEM Lamco Boost Gauge lighting change.

Installing the RX Sponsored Oil Catch Can.

Subaru WRX STI engine oil and filter change.

I'm also getting really addicted to converting everything to illuminate red, I've already ordered some LEDs and resistors for the HVAC conversion. The I/C Spray button, HID height adjustment knob, window and lock switches, will all be eventually converted to red as well. I'm not sure about converting the Head Unit though, because I'm planning on getting an aftermarket one. However, if you guys really demand a video tutorial, I'll try to fit that into my schedule. I thought this winter would be boring, but I was wrong.

Oh, and I'm also gathering some money to get the new GoPro HD Hero 2, hopefully it will come during Christmas time. ;)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Another Red Conversion

If you have changed your ignition ring light, you will definately want to do this mod. This mod only takes around 5-10 minutes of your time. When I ordered my ignition ring light on eBay, I paid a dollar for two lights. I looked online, and found out that the cigarette lighter and ashtray light uses the exact same #74 T5 wedge style bulb!

Much like my other tutorials, I always have additional discoveries that I think of after I finish modding and filming. If you are reading this, make sure you read the blog post corresponding to the video each time, because you will find some additional helpful tips or afterthoughts not mentioned in the videos.

For this mod, I realized I needed more clearance for reinstalling in the bulb. In the video, I removed the cigarette lighter power harness in order to twist the shifter panel out a bit more. However, it wasn't until I saw my own video that I realized I could have just put my car into a gear. Simple right? When you do this mod, make sure you set your gear box to 2nd, 4th, 6th, or reverse gear. This will grant you at least half an inch or more of clearance, and really that's all you'll need.

Other people have been doing this mod by unhooking the entire shift boot, but I don't think this mod calls for that.

The video quality at night is just terrible, but take my word for it, the ashtray looks way better illuminated red.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Maintenance Schedule

Proper maintenance for every car is essential if you want your car to live a long and healthy life. Even simple things like keeping your tires properly inflated can improve fuel efficiency, and reduce the wear on your tires. At the end of the day, spending a bit of money keeping your car well maintained can, and will, save you more money in the long run. Here is a servicing schedule that I found on a Subaru dealer website. If you are planning on servicing your own car, like me, this will surely come in handy.

Keep this page bookmarked, or save this image if you want a copy of the servicing schedule.

There are a lot of benefits to maintaining the car yourself: Keeps the labor costs at bay, you get to know your car inside out, and although it will initially take more time, it will eventually become a fun hobby. I recommend that everyone should try servicing your car yourself, at least once in your life. I just got quotes for some parts from Subaru the other day, I will go pick up the stuff soon, and will be doing an oil change in a couple of weeks. Of course, there will also be a DIY episode on that as well. ;)

Friday, October 21, 2011

20 Dollar Tripod

As some of you know, I am very dedicated to improving my videos. I invested in a GoPro camera because I was tired of making videos with my iPhone. I invested in an external microphone because the built-in mic on the GoPro was terrible. My most recent investment is an aluminum tripod. I used to stack the camera on boxes, or got someone else to hold the camera.

With my own lightweight tripod, I can shoot better videos anytime, and anywhere!

I'm not making any money doing these videos, so I am always finding ways to crunch my budget, but at the same time deliver the best content I can produce. This tripod costed me only $20! It's actually pretty good too. It has every function you can think of, and maybe a little bit more.

A little leveler, nice.

Another leveler, plus a compass!

Next week's video has already been shot and edited. It will be another DIY tutorial. Eventhough it will be a simple one, I'm pretty sure you guys will enjoy it. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Weekend Project - RAV4 S.O.S.

Sunday morning, 9:00 AM, I woke up and started working on the family's Toyota RAV4. My mother had recently had a small accident. Although she wasn't hurt, I couldn't say the same about the car. The paint was scratched, and the bumper was dented so bad that the fog lights became tilted. It took me about three hours to remove the bumper, fix the dent, and install everything back into place.

Before: The bumper is dented, scratched to the core, and even coming off.

After: The bumper is re-aligned, the huge dent is 95% removed. The paint will be a story for another day, if I ever get to that.

It was extremely cold that morning, at 40 degrees my fingers were frozen to the bone while I was figuring out how to remove the bumper. It was relatively easy, since all bumpers are held onto cars pretty similarly. There are always bolts on the top, bottom, and the sides. I started off by removing all the plastic inserts and bolts on the top. Then I removed every bolt on the bottom. Next I removed the inserts and clips holding the fender liner in place, peeled the liner back, and looked for bolts holding the bumper to the fender. When you remove the bumper, make sure things like the fog light harnesses are disconnected from the bumper. The removal process took me about an hour and a half. Sadly I couldn't find any documentation on how to remove this bumper online, otherwise I'm pretty sure I could have cut that time in half.

Needless to say, I had a lot of fun doing this. Other than my own cars, I have never really worked on somebody else's car. The good news is, it saved my parents a couple of bucks, and they were pretty happy about it too.

I can't wait to start modifying more complex stuff on my STI. Incase you guys were wondering, "Why isn't Jagan getting into the good stuff yet?!"

Be patient guys, I have long term plans for this beast, they will slowly unfold.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Altezza Tail lights

Altezza style tail lights has become one of the major exterior modifications to many car enthusiasts. Originating from Toyota/Lexus, these lights are best explained as cylindrical sectioned off lights in a clear lens housing. These lights are very popular in the JDM scene, but has also slowly made its way into the EUDM, and the USDM scene.

Unfortunately, I'm not one of those people who like the look of them. I can accept them on cars that come stock with Altezza style tail lights, but sadly not on my STI. I wouldn't shoot off an arm or a leg to replace them though, but I much rather prefer something from the 04-05 WRX STIs.

The lights on the left are simple, clean, and functions without looking too flashy. The lights on the right are my stock tail lights. Although I have seen worse, I would still prefer the 05 style.

This is really just an idea I've been bouncing around in my head. Obviously everything costs money, and the 05 tail lights aren't exactly cheap either. People sell a used set for $200 a pair. They know most 06-07 STI owners prefer to switch to the 04-05 tail lights. Supply and demand is a bitch.

With that being said, I know everyone is entitled to their own tastes, so let's make this more fun. I always want to reach out to you guys, and I always enjoy hearing your opinions, both good or bad =D. You've seen enough of my pictures, and videos to really know what this car looks like. Question of the day: "If you owned a black Subaru WRX STI, which tail lights would you prefer on your car?"

Feel free to leave a comment in the comment section of the blog, or leave a message on the Facebook page.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Dunlop Winter Tires

It feels like winter might get here sooner this year. It's only mid October and it's already below 40 degrees! For people living in colder climates, winter tires are a must, not only for snow, but for those freezing days of ice covered tarmac

This is the first year I have had winter tires on the WRX STI. I must say, tires totally changes the ride. Since the winter tires are much softer, you can imagine the ride is a lot nicer too. However, it does come with a huge drawback: Reduced grip. Although the tires are just being broken in right now, there was a definite noticeable drop in grip. Spades said on the initial test drive he could feel the car losing traction through the corners, while the stock Potenzas could take the same corner with an additional 10-20 MPH.

Winter mode enabled. Time to rip up some snow!

After he drove the car, I took it out for a spin, and it did feel like a completely different car to me. After these tires are broken in, I will probably feel a bit more comfortable driving with them. Right now, I am going to be taking it easy. We will complete the review on these winter tires when and if it snows.

See you guys next year.

As for your summer wheels, make sure you take the time to pick out any rocks and pebbles from the tire tread. I would suggest taking some time to clean your wheels from any brake dust, and grime before storing them away. Also, remember to label your wheels for a tire rotation. People use different labeling systems, it's important you pick out your own system, and live by it.

My system is to label where the wheels came from. When installing them again, I will decide where they go. Using masking tape is a simple and clean way to label your wheels. Some people prefer chalk, take your pick.

With the new wheels on, make sure your tire pressure is in the recommended range. After driving your car for a couple hundred miles, make sure you re-torque your wheels incase any lug nuts came loose during driving. Drive safe!

Monday, October 10, 2011

MZ needs a bigger crew

It's always sad for car enthusiasts when winter slowly approaches, especially for people living in the colder climates. The ambient temperature is so much colder, and the daylight hours get shorter and shorter. This is already becoming a problem for Machine Zealots. Normally, it takes us an average of 20 hours to film, process, edit, and then upload an episode. However, because of the limited daylight, we had to dedicate two days just for the shooting process this week. We are still currently in editing mode for this week's episode, but we have already used more than 24 hours!

On day one, I was the only person working on the episode. On day two, both Puyang and Spades kindly dedicated their time to help out. It really helped me direct the shots better and faster with Puyang being the dedicated cameraman for day two. I have been wanting to bring in another friend to join the show, I feel that a bigger crew will improve the overall content quality, and speed up the production process. He has been very willing to help out, but our schedules just never quite match. I will introduce him if he eventually joins the show.

Jagan discussing the acting sequence with Spades.

As always, a thumbs up from Spades is always a good sign.

Puyang and Spades waiting for Jagan's instructions.

As you will see in the next episode, the weather was extremely hard to work with. I got in cloudy shots, sunny shots, and foggy shots. At some point in our shoot, it even started to rain! I have this idea that I've been tossing around my head for a couple of weeks now, I might break the show down into seasons. I might consider implementing it this year. We'll see though.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Apex Performance Sponsorship

After months of hard work, I am proud to announce that Apex Performance has kindly decided to sponsor Machine Zealots! This means, more parts, more mods, and more DIY videos for you guys!

Here is a list of brands that Apex Performance currently carries:

ACL | ACPT | ACT Advanced Clutch Technology | ADVAN Wheels | AEM Electronics | AEM Induction | Aerocatch | Aeromotive | aFe Power | Agency Power | AGP | Air Spencer | AMR Performance | A'PEXi | APR Performance | Aquamist | ARC Japan (Abbey Road Company) | ARP| ATE | ATi Autotech Interiors | ATP Turbo | Autometer | AutoPage Remate Starters | AVO Turboworld | Axxis | BC Racing | Beatrush | Black Lightning (mechanics gloves) | BlackTop Aero | Blitz | Blouch Turbo | BLOX | BorgWarner | Borla | Bosch | Brembo | Brian Crower | Bride | Buddy Club | Bully Dog | Carbign Craft | Carbing | Carbonetic | Carillo | ClutchMasters | COBB Tuning | Cometic Gasket | Competition Cams | Competition Clutch | Corbeau | Cosworth | CP Piston | Crawford Performance | Crower | Cry02 | Cusco | Davies Craig | DBA Disc Brakes Australia | DC Sports | DeatschWerks | Defi | DEI (heatwrap) | Denso | DiabloSport | Driveshaft Shop | Drop Engineering | Eagle | EBC Brakes | Edelbrock | Edge Racing | Eibach | Energy Suspension | Enkei Wheels | Epic Engineering | Exedy | Ferodo Brakes | Fidanza | FiveO Motorsports | Fluidampr | Forced Performance | Forge | Fujitsubo | Full Blown Motorsports | Garrett | Gates Racing | GoFastBits | Goodridge | Gorilla Automotive Products | GReddy | GrillCraft | GrimmSpeed | GSC Power Division | GTSpec | H&R Suspension | Hallman | Hans Device | Hawk Performance | Hella | HJC | HKS | H.O.A. Imports | Hotchkis | HyperTech | INGS+1 | Injen | Injector Dynamics | Innovate Motorsports | Invidia | JE Pistons | JIC Magic | K1 Technologies | K&N Engineering | Kaminari | Kartboy | Kelford Cams | KICS Project | Killer B Motorsport | KING Engine Bearings | Koyo | KSTECH | KYB | Magnaflow | Manley Performance | MB Gauge Pods | MBRP | Megan Racing | Mishimoto | Mitsubishi OEM | MODE Racing | Moroso | Motive Products | Motul | MSD Ingition | MSI Competition Components | Mugen | Muteki | NGK Spark Plugs | NISMO | NRG Innovations | ODYSSEY Batteries | Ohlins | Okada Projects | Omni-Power | Option Racing | Perrin Performance | PLX Devices | Power Enterprise | PowerSlot | Process West | Prodrive Wheels | Progress Suspension | Project Mu | Prova Japan | PST Driveshafts | Pyrotect Helmets | RallyArmor | Race Ramps |RC Engineering | Recaro | Redline Oil & Fluids | Samco | Seibon Carbon | Skunk2 Racing | SPAL Automotive | Sparco | Spearco Intercoolers | SPEC Clutch | SpeedBleeder | SSR Wheels | Stance USA | STi Subaru Tecnica International (JDM & Group N products) | StopTech | STRI Gauges | Subaru OEM | SuperChips | SuperPro Bushings | Swift Suspension | Synapse Engineering | Takata | Takeda Attack | Tanabe Racing Development | Techna-Fit | Tein Suspension | Thermo-Tec (heatwrap) | TiAL Sport | Tokico | Tomei | Turbonetics | TurboSmart | TurboXS | Turn-In Concepts | Varis | Venair | Vibrant | Volk Racing Wheels | Walbro | Weapon R | Whiteline Suspension | Wiseco | Work Wheels| Zeitronix | ZEX Nitrous Oxide Systems

They literally carry brands from A-Z folks, and I am very excited to start working with them. If you guys have any aftermarket needs, take a look at this list, and contact them for the best prices!

Welcome aboard Apex Performance!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Changing the Ignition Ring Light

People do many different things to their car based on how they use it. Some people strip their car and spend thousands of dollars making their car lighter. While others do the opposite, they dress up their car with leather, suede, lights, subwoofers, and DVD players.

In the past, the Subaru Imprezas were illuminated in a sea of green gauges and controls. When the 2004 Subaru WRX STIs came to the market it had come with red gauges, but green was left everywhere else. This trend carried on to the 2007 STIs. Unfortunately, the years from 2004 to 2007 were caught in a transformation stage. By the year 2008, the STIs were fully illuminated with red gauges, dials and buttons. They even had red footwell lights equipped to illuminate when the doors opened. Needless to say, this brought a greater sense of harmony for the interior.

Many of the 2004-2007 owners have already converted their interior to illuminate full red, and boy does it look awesome.

This mod is just one small step for you to complete that red look. When you open the driver door, the ignition ring illuminates for the ease of the driver. This mod looks incredible during the night, and I suggest that you try this out if you have nothing better to do!

As I have mentioned in the video, you can easily find these kind of light bulbs online from most web lighting stores. You can even find them at local electronic stores. However, after doing lots of price matching, I came to the conclusion that eBay was by far the cheapest. Look for deals, and check the shipping price! Popular online lighting stores charge you $2 for the light bulb, but depending where you live, their shipping fee is as high as $10! I bought TWO light bulbs for $1 and free shipping. Incase one is defective, it is always nice to have a back up.

Well, I hope this video was helpful for my fellow Zealots. I have plans to convert the full interior myself to illuminate red. If you guys are interested, please be sure to subscribe to the Youtube Channel, and join MZ's Facebook page for updates.

Happy modding!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

One dollar mod, worth a million bucks?

As winter approaches, everything from Machine Zealots will be slowing down a bit. Expect the worst, but if you want premium content, I'll still try to deliver as much as I can. Frankly, I don't think I can live without modifying, or making videos anymore.

I had originally wanted to produce and upload an episode of Machine Zealots every week. However, I soon realized that if I had done it that way, it wasn't enough time to produce polished and consistent content. Therefore, I am aiming for a biweekly ritual: Shoot, edit, produce, and deliver.

Most of the time, I am waiting for packages to come in the mail for me to get started. Then it's all about arranging people to help out, participating in the videos, and the planning!

The next DIY mod. Costed me $1.00 including shipping.

I will be working on the next two videos sometime this week and possibly the next. Everything is circumstantial though, if this $1 mod isn't defective that is. I've been looking at the statistics, and it seems like Machine Zealots is averaging around three subscribers per episode uploaded. I just wanted to take this time out to say thank you for your support. Your subscriptions, comments, and continual support is priceless to MZ.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Rays Engineering Lug Nuts

On the previous post, I wrote about how these Rays Engineering lug nuts compared to the imitations. Today, I'm here to tell you that these are actually a lot lighter than most lug nuts that come stock with your car.

Obviously, you would think the weight savings on something as small as lug nuts really doesn't make that much of a difference, but when you are shedding unsprung weight, every little bit makes a difference. At least that's my justification for buying these "expensive" lug nuts. These are usually sold for anywhere around $200 to $250. I was lucky enough and got hooked up with a huge discount, and ended up paying only $165 for these.

For my Subaru STI, I was actually a bit suprised to see that the stock lug nuts were extremely light!

50 mm Rays lug nut: 30 grams (1.06 oz)

19 mm Stock STI lug nut: 25 grams (0.88 oz)

Rays lock Nut: 28 grams (0.99 oz)

Stock STI lock nut: 47 grams (1.66 oz)

Total set of Rays lug and lock nuts: 588 grams (20.1 oz)

Total set of Stock STI lug and lock nuts: 592 grams (20.1 oz)

Yes, so eventually, I ended up with almost identical weights. However, because I like the look of the extended lug nuts, I think it is still a worth while mod. Puyang's purchase for his Honda Prelude was much better. The Prelude's stock lug nuts weigh 50 grams (1.76 oz) each!

I always try to make sure that every mod I buy is lighter than stock, if possible. After the amount of money you spend on your car, you want to make sure you end up with something faster and lighter.