September 12, 2010

The upside of tools

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:03 pm by Tina Umino

I have to admit, there are some good thing about having every kind of tool imaginable and a car nut who knows how to use them in the house. Broken waffle iron, getting fixed with a multimeter (it reads currents for those that, like me, doesn’t know)


A new addition

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:08 am by Tina Umino

Our three car garage just got a little more full with the addition of a oversized tool chest. I suppose it would be quite ordinary in a professional car garage but Peter is an engineer and this is our home. Looks like my car is going to have to wait before it will ever be allowed to park in the garage. That is another feature about being marriage to a car fanatic/wanna be mechanic: 3 car garage = both cars outside and unable to walk through the garage without bumping into tool.
Right now Peter is on a mission. There are 20 drawers that must be filled with stuff that Tina will never be able to recognize.

September 7, 2010

row row row your kitcar

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:47 pm by Tina Umino

Peter looked so cute this weekend seating in the “seat” of his kitcar. So i am 5 foot 4 and it was a tight squeeze for me to sit in it. I am skeptical of how Peter is going to get his nearly 6 feet frame to fit inside the car to drive it comfortably. In the meantime, he was looking so proud in his red and black car frame stacked on top of two saw horse kind of thing. Makes me want to sing “row row row your kitcar through imaginary racing land….”

September 2, 2010

back again….

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:01 pm by Tina Umino

its been so long since i wrote on this blog. Sorry Peter. (face hiding in shame). While i have been lazy, Peter definitely has not been. Big news:

1. He broke even!!! Apparently he actually sold enough “stuff” from the donor car and his garage to cover the price of the kitcar. Pretty amazing. I still can’t park my car in the garage but it doesn’t have 10 sets of tires anymore.

2. The kitcar is here. What drama it is too. Some terrible shipping company tried to scam him. They quoted 800 to truck it across the US and drop it off at our door, but it just so happened that once the car is already on the truck, they realized that they miscatagorized it and it is more than twice the cost. It just so happened…… Two weeks later and a stress out Peter, he finally delivered close to their original price. Good for Peter for standing firm.

3. Peter wanted to paint the row bar flaming red. Which actually looked really good. BUT he spray painted my bicycle along with it…… hum…… oops

June 27, 2010

big, bulky and heavy

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:10 am by Tina Umino

Not for the first time, i was woken from my afternoon nap by the sounds of ratcheting. The good part about that is seeing my dogs ear perk up in that cute way. The culprit this time is Peter in the garage. A new artifact showed up in our house yesterday. It is in the big, bulky and heavy category, barely fitting in the GTI. Put together, it really looked like the signs for camp grounds on the freeway. Its a saw bench. Much like what carpenter would use. It came two in a set. Peter got two sets. Big bulky things always comes in multiples in our house. (ahem….. tires) So what is its purpose in Car-dom? Ergonomic allowances for working on cars (if there is really such a thing when working on a car).  Instead of jacking up the car two a maximum of a foot and half, you can set the car on this work bench thing and get a good 3 feet out of it. A small child can now be training to work under the car without ducking. (We need to have Sylvia over. ) You can also work above the car and it is at waist level. I suppose if Peter is going to put the car together himself, he really would need something like that. Either that or a lot of sessions at the masseuse. As far as I know, our insurance probably doesn’t cover it.

June 24, 2010

drop the engine… like its heavy

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:24 am by Tina Umino

Peter delivered (twice) the good news to me that the kit car is completely paid for and is now on its way to our house. Well its a 6 weeks journey by boat from the UK, then through US customs, then by truck across the country. So this past weekend, out of excitement and celebration, we did some engine dropping.

I am proud to say i got my first pair of pants dirty b/c of working on the car and had my hair smell like dirt from having to fit myself in funny positions trying to remove a bolt. The car and I played “find the end of the wire”. From behind the dash, there is a wire that connects to the seat belt and the brake lights and some other place that i can’t quite remember right now (antenna, fuel pump, battery cables,…). There is really nothing better than taking something apart. It would have been so much better if we didn’t have to stop and label everything. I suppose it is a good idea to keep things organized if it is to be used again. But it totally disrupted the rhythm of taking breaking something open. Maybe a bit of Peter is rubbing off on me. One thing i did learn from this experience is that I enjoy taking off the bolts by hand crank so much better than using an electric gun. I think it has to do with the near deaf experiences that comes with using the electric gun.
While i was doing all this, Peter was fighting the engine yet again. This time it is removing it. To be honest, i really wasn’t watching him very carefully as my own fight with the wires was so totally engrossing. After two days of hard work he managed it. Now it is just sitting under the car, but there is the catch. How to you get a 2 ton car frame, without an engine to the other side of the garage? I think we are going to be buying pizza for a group of strong hungry guys sometime soon.

June 12, 2010

smoking battery

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:08 pm by Tina Umino

Recently Peter came home from a test drive in the still running donor car with smoke coming out of the back. Hum…. probably not very good news. Turns out the battery was the culprit. It was my first time smelling burning battery. Like a lot of things in life, once is enough. It sort of reminded me of my chemistry lab sessions in college when you realize that you just blew your grade due to an experiment gone wrong. Peter was nice enough to put the battery outside of the house in a black garage bag. To be honest, it looked more like a suspicious bomb than anything else.

May 31, 2010


Posted in Uncategorized at 5:54 pm by Tina Umino

things have slowed down in the kit car household. Still t-minus 2 months before the kit car arrives. currently it is all about tuning. To me, it looks very complicated. But i think peter is having fun. He is always posting about how much “boost” he is getting out of the car. I think it has something to do with adding more horsepower. Anyways, here is how you tune.

Top left: Engine Speed, that is the same as the one in normal cars. That is how fast the engine is turning. You can’t program it. it just counts engine revolutions per second.

Top 2nd left: Throttle position. Another measurement only gauge that shows how much gas (aka throttle pedal) you are giving the engine.

Top 3rd left: pulse width. how far the fuel injectors open for. It is either unimportant or too complicated. Peter told me to skip it.

Top right: Air fuel ratio. Ah… the all important air fuel ratio and the reason why I was riding in the crazy donor car with no dash in the rain. This is how you know whether you are buring rich (too much fuel) or lean (too much air, in danger of over heating the engine, but good gas mileage). The perfect ratio is 14.7, Peter is starting rich, which means the exhaust is stinky but engine is safe.  He’ll be working the AFR to around 12.5…which means more drives in the crazy car in the rain since it is Seattle.

Bottom left: Ignition advance. how many degrees (as in an angle) before the pistons reaches its max height before you ignite the fuel. Think about pushing a swing. You want to get ready to push before the swing reaches the crest. Igniting the fuel is like thinking about pushing.

Bottom 2nd left: Fuel load. Apparently unimportant. Peter doesn’t know either.

Bottom 3rd left: Warmup enrichment. How much extra fuel you want to give a cold engine. The colder the engine, aka weather, the more fuel. You can set that one.

Bottom Right: Engine MAP. Pressure inside the intake manifold (think lungs of the car just before the engine). Another measurement only. Shows whether you are on the gas or not. Not on gas, low pressure. Fully on the gas, pressure equals the outside environment, air flows in.  For our car, this can also be above atmospheric pressure b/c we have a supercharger (aka more power…this is starting to sound like “Tool Time”!)

Thats pretty much tuning. Like I said, it is complicated.

May 19, 2010

tapping the manifold

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:38 pm by Tina Umino

Oops forgot to publish this one…. it was from a couple month back.

On the way home from work, Peter announced that he was going to “tap the manifold”. My immediate thought was of maple trees in Vermont. Turns out “tapping the manifold” is really another way of saying drilling some big holes by hand. What you need is this:

1. one die set (see picture)

2. one ratchet

3. one extender

4. one manifold

5. one willing victim with a lot of patience and arm strength (not me)

With a turning motion, you force the die into the manifold so that it creates a hole. Not just any hole, a hole with thread on it. It is quite like a dance with the die and ratchet. Two turns down, 1 turn back out so that the shavings come out.

Why is he doing this? So that the temperature sensor can fit into it. My guess is that it is the temperature sensor for the engine that displays with the C to H scale. Frankly, I am surprised that he is putting it in there. We did own a car without one. At that time, I was shocked that there are cars that does not come with one. Now? Not so much.

May 15, 2010

Tina’s Big Day – Installing Fuel injectors!

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:37 am by Tina Umino

It is a proud day in the Umino household. I actually changed the fuel injectors!! Fuel injectors are the things that squirts or injects fuel into the engine. Then there is a spark, fuel burns and the waste is pushed out of the pistons. I think…. this is all from a vague memory of watching a model piston work in the BWM factory in Munich several years back. Watching the model at work reminded me of our med school friend Andre talk about the way the human heart beats.  Anyways, tangent aside. Once the fuel injector rail was detached from the engine (courtesy of Peter), the injectors must be pulled off the fuel line (that’s how the fuel actually get into the injectors). There is where I came in. As Peter put it, he needed someone with small fingers.

Pulling off the injectors was pretty hard. You can’t pull too hard or you might break the something. But the injectors were really stubbornly in there. In the end, it is probably a good thing. Who wants their fuel injectors to fall off when they are driving down the freeway? The big surprised came for me when i actually got the thing off. Out came this fluid that gave me a very familiar, yet alien feeling. It is like sensory deja vu. It reminded of spilt nail polish remover on myself. Same smell too.

Next came putting in the new injectors , which were nicely labeled with their own numbers to match what position they would sit in on the pistons. As messy as garage work is, you need to be really meticulous about it. Another reason why I am not cut out for this. I would lose everything. And that is probably why Peter doesn’t lose things, now that I think about it. So these pistons are suppose to inject twice as much fuel as the old ones. Which means? Everyone say it together, MORE POWER! This is the stuff of dreams for speed loving car people (mostly guys but some girls too).

Yellow things are the injectors, red things are rags to prevent things from getting into the engine

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