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Saturday, July 28, 2012

400 Subscribers

Last night, at 11:52 PM, the Machine Zealots YouTube channel reached 400 subscribers. As usual, a couple of subscribers decided to drop out over the months, but the loyal viewers seem to keep growing. Each week I thank a couple of you subscribers, and it seems that the Machine Zealots videos are reaching an international audience. I've seen people from all across the world subscribe to the channel, and I want to say thank you guys so much. I wish I could thank each of you individually in your native language as well.

I've gotten to talk to some of you guys via YouTube and Facebook, and I have to say, it's been an honor talking and getting to know you guys. Some of you have even posted images of your completed projects and thanking us for our tutorial videos. Very cool!

Thanks Blair and Edson for sharing your projects with the rest of us! Your cars look fantastic!

On a production note, Puyang and I have been discussing how to keep this show going. Most importantly, how we should pace out the show so the episodes feel balanced, and air on time for you guys. We've come to a conclusion that each season will be comprised of 18 YouTube episodes. 

Usually we air episodes every two weeks. Unless of emergencies or technical difficulties, this pattern won't change. However, because Machine Zealots is after all a production budgeted from our own pockets, there are limitations of how much we can do per season. Therefore, an episode every two weeks would only take up 36 weeks in a year. The other 16 weeks will be off time that Puyang and I get to rest, make money, and bank footage for episodes.

There are 15 episodes currently released this season, so you can expect three more episodes this year. We'll reveal what we have planned for 2013 later on.

Thanks again for all the support, without you guys, we wouldn't be doing this.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Second AutoX, Scion FR-S enters the race

This is another Corvette Club autocross which took place on July 14th. This was my first sunny autocross, and now that I have driven in both the pouring rain and dry tarmac, I have a much better feeling for the STI.

I will admit I was driving pretty aggressively through the corners. If you compare my racing footage to Ben's Scion FR-S (Start video from 11:50), you will notice my tires scream a lot more. I pushed the car pretty hard, resulting in so many cones hit throughout the day. However, if it wasn't for this constant pushing, I don't think I would have taken first place for the stock class.

I learned even more about the STI this time around, mainly how much torture the Bridgestone Potenza RE070s could take. I would like to see how the STI does with at least 245 tires on all fours, because the 225 Potenzas are actually letting my car go sooner than I think it should. By run 5, I've lowered the amount of air pressure in my front tires, and I began to launch at 5500 RPM which resulted in much better run times. I started off the day with 5200 RPM, but because the weather got too hot, the tires hooked up too well, so it bogged down my car a little bit.

The Scion FR-S, and the Subaru BRZ have been all the hype these past couple of months. I was very excited to be able to sit in one, especially when it is being pushed under extreme conditions. The car is light and nimble, and the power to weight ratio isn't bad either. The car does feel like it has a harder time picking up speed due to the lack of torque. Even the 2012 Golf GTI feels faster, just because it hits peak torque at lower RPMs. However, acceleration aside, the Scion FR-S comes with very good suspension from stock. It felt extremely planted for a RWD car, and with the addition of it being lightweight, it dived into the corners without any drama. I would say, the Scion FR-S is probably faster at entering corners than my STI. Though the Scion FR-S had a slightly slower time overall, it had probably been faster than the STI on specific sectors. Perhaps I should start playing with side by side racing footage just to see how the cars compared.

I've got to say, I am beginning to appreciate this STI inside and out. Being able to work on it, race it, then pamper it, is nothing but incredible. I am considering to buy and install some stiffer steering rack bushings. I've heard they really give the driver a much more accurate feel of what the front wheels are doing. I've had to correct my steering many times during this autocross session, and though it felt pretty natural, I am curious if this feedback could be improved.

Machine Zealots will be taking a short intermission starting this week. We have four episodes already lined up for you guys when we come back. We will be taking this time off to install, film, and edit the episodes. If you viewers are interested in our work, and want mini updates, please follow us on Facebook, and join our little community!

We've also opened up a clothing shop, that sells t-shirts and hoodies with the our Machine Zealots designs. The cost may be a bit high but, if you don't mind supporting our brand, for every purchase $2 dollars goes to Machine Zealots. If you don't want to purchase anything, don't worry, just continue sharing and enjoying our work!

Monday, July 16, 2012

My first win

On July 14th, the local Corvette Club held another amazing autocross event. Last time, it had poured rain throughout the entire event, and since I have never autocrossed the STI before that, I never got an opportunity to autocross the STI on dry pavement.

And yes, it makes a huge difference.

The day before the races, I posted photos and updates on Facebook and Instagram as they happened. There were a lot of preparations that needed attention, so that took around 40 minutes to sort out.

Had to make sure the intercooler water spray tank had enough fresh water.

Checked all fluid levels and conditions. Though the brake fluid could have used a change, it was fine for Autocross this time.

Re-torqued all lug nuts, and checked all cold tire pressures.

Prepared some light supplies: Extra engine oil, torque wrench, breaker bar, scissor jack, extra lug nuts and their locks and keys, foldable chair, plastic tarp, and a spare tire.

And last but not least, racing gear: Helmet and Shoes.

Registration for that day was at 8:00 AM, so I arrived bright and early and started to settle down. As the time for registration drew near, more and more cars started to pull in. There were a couple of cars that were known to take on corners, and this made me nervous, but also very excited.

As the day progressed, it had gotten really hot, and the STI's Bridgestone Potenza RE070s were hooking up really well. So well in fact, that I had to raise the launch control RPM from 5200 to 5500! I was quite nervous launching so many times at such high RPMs in the blazing heat, but as it turned out the STI handled it like a pro.

In the morning, the temperature was at a perfect 75 degrees, but by the end of the day, the ambient temperature had risen to 87 degrees! It was so hot in fact that two cars were put out of commission due to leaking radiator hoses, and radiator caps blowing off. Seeing two cars overheat made everyone very nervous. Everyone did all they could to cool down their cars as much as possible between the runs.

At the end of the event, everyone parked their cars, and gathered together as the organizers gave out prizes to the top four drivers. Since it was a Corvette Club organized autocross, they had one prize for the fastest Corvette on street tires, and one on racing tires. Then they categorized any other make of cars under the "Sports car" section, and also gave out prizes for the fastest street tires, and fastest racing tires.

I had earned my very first win, for being the fastest stock car with street tires that day with a run of 68.557 seconds. I had won a hat, and a small set of tools: Flashlight, tire pressure gauge, and a pen. The prize was light hearted and fun, so I smiled as I received it.

To me, the most important part of this was that it was a great learning experience, and it really showed me, and the others, what the Subaru Impreza WRX STI can really do.

The episode will be airing later. I will talk more about the driving aspect when the episode is released. Cheers!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

S204 Style Polyurethane Lip

I am personally a big fan of all the JDM STIs, and believe me, if you aren't familiar with the WRX STI, there are many MANY versions. One of the most iconic STIs is the S204. It has a different rear wing, and features a very clean and simple looking front lip, also known as the V-limited lip.

The V-limited lip is an OEM part, which you can imagine is much more expensive. How much more? Well, it is easily upwards from $400. Unless there are special offers or discounts, you won't be able to find a brand new V-limited any cheaper. Because this lip is an STI part, it is obviously branded as such, so on each V-limited lip, you will find a small "STI" branded plaque on the center of the lip. The V-limited lip is made of high quality grade ABS plastic, the same material used in the front bumper, so you would imagine it's well worth the price right? Well, let me continue.

The 2006-2007 "Hawkeye" STIs generates a pretty good amount of downforce on its own when you hit 80+ MPH. The V-limited lip was designed, not just for looks but, to improve the front end downforce. You will not get much difference with this installed polyurethane replica. After installing this lip, I had an opportunity to test this car at higher speeds. There was so much down force generated from this lip that the lower part of my bumper is trying to separate itself from the rest of the car. What I mean is, my bumper is cracking, severely. (There will be more updates on this cracking bumper later.)

Lesson One: ABS Plastic is highly prone to cracking. This is the number one reason people usually purchase the polyurethane replica. For a long time, I thought I would be buying the OEM V-limited lip, but it never justified the cost. The polyurethane lip can be purchased for around $100, and I will tell you I am 100% satisfied with it.

Lesson Two: This lesson came from one of Machine Zealots' very own subscribers. He told me that his V-Limited lip had been stolen. The thief really knew what he was doing, he had just got himself a $400 car part, without actually having to break into the car. I won't mention any names here, but you know who you are, and thanks for sharing that story.

Both lessons, and many convincing words made me jump onto this polyurethane replica instead. I don't see any shame in it personally. In the end, it's how you use your car, that really shows the car's value.

There isn't much to be said about the install itself, it was pretty straight forward. However, as mentioned in the video, the polyurethane lip CAN be painted. If it was, it would probably look a lot better than it already is. However, because this lip automatically makes the front end of the car an inch lower, I will leave it unpainted in case of "accidents".

Another thing you can do is to drill more holes, and reinforce the lip with bigger mounting hardware: Nuts, bolts, and washers. I'm personally going to leave mine as it is, and upgrade when I need to.

As for the cracking bumper, I am already preparing to fix that. A member on the STI forums has a very helpful write up, which I plan on using to fix this issue. I will most likely make a full episode on this as well, so stay tuned.

Monday, July 9, 2012

A much needed car wash

Since June 16th, the day of my first Autocross, I haven't had a chance to wash my car. As you may have noticed, it was raining non-stop. On the days that were good weather, the forecast for the following day was rainy again.

Finally, we get a full week's forecast of clear skies, so Puyang and I spent some time giving our cars a well deserved car wash. The STI definitely needed the car wash, especially from the brake dust that the Hawk HP+ had produced.

Before: Brake dust caked onto the wheel. Giving the Gold BBS wheels a nice "bronze" finish.

After: Oh hello Mr. Gold, I had almost forgotten what you looked like.

You can see that shine!

Puyang's GTI had been through a lot too. Due to his dedication of breaking in the engine, he had been driving the car a lot in rain and shine. White cars seems like such an easy color to wash, compared to black.

Puyang inspecting the paint.

After our hard work, we thought it would be a good idea to take some pictures of these clean cars, while we had the chance. So it was time to cruise around, and shoot some photos.

Puyang taking some pics of his car.

GoPro for the win!

Food for our cars.

All in all, it was a pretty productive weekend. Most importantly, we got to take in some sunlight, and take these beauties out onto the open road.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Lips can be sexy on Women, what about cars?

The STI's S204 style polyurethane lip has been installed for a week now. I've spent most of the week editing the episode, so I haven't really been actively blogging.

The full episode will come soon, but for now I've made this wallpaper for fun.

It's full 1920 x 1080, so feel free to download and use it if you want. Honestly, I love the look of the lip. It's simple and clean, but it adds so much more to the car. You'll see it in action on the next episode. Till then, cheers!