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chknhwk HalfDork
3/12/19 6:51 a.m.

Vicki's Unwelcome House Guests


Well, maybe just the evidence that they visited before eviction.

Back story time! So my son had a sinus infection which necessitated a two week long ‘camping trip’ to Boston Children's Hospital, three surgery teams operating simultaneously and a massive, massive bill. Little guy is doing great, we've got him home and he's getting daily IV injections. I didn't really update the GRM family of this because I was pretty stressed while at Boston Children's.

During that time my car spent much of her time parked as I only drove home twice for showers. Due the my wife's back issues (multiple toradol shots, an ESI, about 30 hydrocodone [sp?] pills and a nerve block to deal with the pain) she couldn't sleep at the hospital as much as me - not that I minded staying with my boy. Anywho, upon returning home and after a trip through the car wash I noticed what appeared to be steam coming from the front of the car. I popped the hood and couldn't determine (still can't) whether it was water on the radiator or a result of a pinhole leak. I stared and poked and smelled and was completely absorbed with trying to figure out just what the heck my car was doing to me this time. Eventually I admitted defeat, stood up to close the hood and was greeted with THIS.

What in the actual heck? I started peeling the layers away and it became evident very quickly this was no mouse nest…

The hole in the center of the nest was easily large enough to house a small family of squirrels.

The engine guests ‘house’ fully disassembled.

I’m guessing that simply occupying approximately 35% of my engine bay wasn't enough of an affront to my desire to keep an adding British car on the road so they decided to start chewing through various wires.

I guess the firewall insulation is pretty tasty?

About this time the shock (and no small amount of anger) had dissipated so I called the wife out who immediately pointed out that the white material the squirrels had used. No doubt their selection was based on comfort and availability the question was, however, just HOW available was this evidently luxurious padding? I say luxurious because I have a feeling it CAME FROM INSIDE MY OWN CAR. As if the aforementioned affront was affronting enough. Ugh. I still have to figure out where this nesting material came from.

I wondered just how all of this happened and I certainly hope this has nothing to do with it but I happened to notice a footwell full of water immediately after my latest car wash trip.

The battle continues...

dclafleur New Reader
3/12/19 8:40 a.m.

Freaking squirrels, you might also look around and make sure they don't have a nut stash somewhere in there too.  I had a corner of my shop that squirrels were climbing through and I went full scorched earth, cut down the plant they were climbing up, blocked the corner they were climbing through with metal and gave my neighbor permission to shoot at them if he felt so compelled (my shop backs up to his driveway).

chknhwk HalfDork
3/31/19 8:40 a.m.

Since my life is kind of maybe sorta turning around a bit I decided it's time enough to get back behind the wheel for some events this year. Currently I am looking at two venues: NER SCCA and NEHA. I'm honestly thinking of signing up for both orgs.  My goal is to just get out a couple times a year and feel the feel again. While I prefer road racing I think Solo would be enough for me and I've been dying to try hillclimbs for about ten years.

The reason I post this is upon filling out the SCCA application I noticed there's a spot for referrals so I'm wondering if anybody would like to be my referree? And also does it help whomever refers me in some way?

Thanks in advance if anybody is interested!

Indy-Guy UberDork
3/31/19 12:02 p.m.

In reply to chknhwk :

I hope and pray for a speedy recovery for your son. Sounds like youvyo all been through a lot.


It's amazing ( and very frustrating) the places wildlife will pick to make their homes.  It's a constant battle here too.

chknhwk HalfDork
4/13/19 11:54 a.m.

In reply to Indy-Guy :

Thank you, I appreciate it!  He's doing much better and the wifey got through her second spinal fusion with zero incidents, now to just wait for her healing process and then at some point we can resume normal familial functions like track events, zoos, etc.  


So if nobody is interested in getting a referral to SCCA I'll just sign up and hopefully get on track at some point this year!

chknhwk HalfDork
5/5/19 10:47 a.m.

I swear I’m not a hoarder...I just happened to have a set of mufflers I ordered a decade ago that were never put on a car, waiting for the right project to come along.

A few modifications I do to every street car are wheels and exhaust at a minimum.  I just need it to look and sound different. I’m sure many people are nodding their heads in agreement - it’s a car person thing, the inherent need to be different.  My wife tries to disapprove but I remind her of stories detailing how she had to have a set of wheels delivered to her office so her husband at the time wouldn’t know.  Yeah, I may have picked the right one but that’s a story for another day.

Yes yes yes, I haven’t been done a good job in keeping project cars for very long or make great progress on them so about 9 years ago when I had my first Jaguar I purchased a set of Pype’s Violators.  My goal was something a bit more throaty without being obnoxious and limiting the resonant drone that comes with the resonator deletes on these cars.  The still-born plan was to replace just the mufflers. Unfortunately I never had a chance to install them as SWMBO wasn’t comfortable with the perceived direction the various repairs were headed with my blue baby, making me put it up for sale.  

I toyed with the idea of installing the Pypes on my second Jaguar, even going as far as getting a quote, but again my inability to live a consistent life prevented me from progressing with this project.

Fast forward through 9 years of bad decision making and I proceed to what may amount to another one: come hell or high water I will get this Jaguar, Vicki, to a point I am happy with the fulfillment of my vision for my daily driver.  

Rewind several years to the following scene: beautiful Fall New England day, plenty of foliage still left on the trees lining a winding road, very comfortable temps and racecars lined up to battle for the best time headed up Mt. Burke in Vermont.  I’ve met a great group of people and I am immediately hooked on hill climbs. I have yet, to date, been able to compete but I still find myself headed up to Vermont to volunteer/hang out when I can. This is where I meet a nice young man named Liam who is racing a Subaru WithOutback and doing very well.  

Turns out he does all of his fabrication work himself as he comes from a family of racers. He also offers wrench-time in order to help fund his racing addiction. I’m all about giving back to the community and helping our country’s youth achieve their dreams so I ask the question, “hey, how much to weld on a couple mufflers?”.  To which Liam replies “Shouldn’t be too much, let’s do it.” Bang, I’ve got my guy.

Problem is, I have mufflers but no tips.  I knew I didn’t want to weld the same tips back on so the hunt began for just the right tips.  The cutouts on my rear bumper were a nice oval shape so I knew I wanted something to fill the cutouts using the natural curves.  However this quest turned out to be much more difficult than I thought it would be.

I was hooked on the Audi RS4 oval tips but the prices were quite high - well outside of my budget of <$100 for both.  

I was drawn to the design and the quality but could only afford one of the two. Plus black. In addition to my previous goals on sound quality, I also wanted something that blended perfectly with the body design and color cues. Definitely needed black.  Ultimately I would love something that matched the vertical slats in my front bumper and eBay to the rescue, specifically hybers1964, and I came up with these:

Yeah, these'll do, these'll do just fine...

Come judgement day I loaded up my mufflers and tips (in addition to another project that fellow GRMers Javelin and fusion66 were able to help me with) and drove the hour to Liam’s place.  Unfortunately the axle-back portion of my exhaust was MUCH smaller in diameter than I thought - much smaller than the 2.5” in/out configuration on the mufflers I had ordered - we had to spend about an hour and a half driving around town looking for the exact combination of exhaust reducers to make this work.

Armed with the right set of reducers Liam spent several hours lining up the mufflers perfectly before welding everything in.  In spite of Liam telling me he really didn’t have the right welder for the job we proceeded ahead anyway.

End result?  I am absolutely in love with this latest modification.  There is a nice burble in the idle and it sounds fairly close to intoxicating at full scream (probably the second best exhaust kit I’ve had installed - if Brullen was still open I would have recreated that exhaust for this car).  As soon as I figure out how to take decent audio of the exhaust note I will do so and post some videos for everybody to hear.

Pic of the new with the old.


Test fitting the mufflers and tips.

End result:

I won’t go into how much this cost me out of respect for Liam (he may have to raise prices in the future due to what will, hopefully, amount to more demand on his services) but I will say it was VERY reasonable in cost.  I think all the reducers were about $20, my exhaust tips were $99.95 shipped and the mufflers were, well, I’m not sure. It’s amazing what a decade can do to the cost of parts ordered...

dclafleur Reader
5/6/19 8:52 a.m.

I'm pretty sure parts that have been sitting for a decade are now free.. Glad to see some forward progress!

chknhwk HalfDork
5/8/19 7:44 a.m.

In reply to dclafleur :

Me too!  There is significantly less progress in the next installment and I have yet to correct the damage inflicted during the apparent rodent infestation...

chknhwk HalfDork
5/8/19 7:19 p.m.

A wise man once said a house built on sand will fall before one built on rock.

“And love is the foundation we lean on,” Loretta Lynn.

Seems like foundation is everything, which brings me to my latest update.

As with just about any used car buy/drive/ownership there can be a number of things that may need to be repaired or otherwise perfected to get the car where we want it to be.  One of the biggest things I’ve had to deal with is a rocking seat base. Few things will conspire to reduce your driving confidence than the insecurities that arise from not having a solid butt-mount.  (Flashback to a ride at Mid-Ohio in a mid-70s 911 driven by an instructor and a passenger seat that literally felt like it was sitting on a milk crate…)

As many of you have seen in previous updates I replaced the entire interior of Vicki with black, not a factory option in the States.  However, imagine my surprise when I got my car back and the seat base was rocking even more than it was before the accident. Why didn’t Joe replace my seat base with one that wasn’t broken?  Especially if the force of the accident seemingly caused the base to break a bit more resulting in even more rockage…

Cause of my issues:

Turns out replacing the seat base in these cars is a rather pain and the seatbase in the car WASN’T the same one as before the accident.  OK, so this is a common issue with the X-Types? Gotcha. Still not confidence-inspiring…

It took me a bit to figure out what exactly causing the seat to rock but now that I had it identified I could start figuring out how to replace this.  Fast forward a bit and Joe and I both go halvesies on a parts car but due to lack of time and resources we weren’t able to get it. Joe, in an effort to make good on his half of what amounts to a business deal, pulls the driver’s seat base out of the car he’s restoring to put in my car.  Joe has proven himself to be a stand up guy on numerous occasions but he didn’t tell me he was going to pull HIS seat base to give to me before driving 300 miles to pick it up (or I would have told him to hold off on that idea until we come up with a better one).

Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, however, I loaded up my new-to-me seat base and other parts I needed off our non-existent parts car I headed back up North.  You see, getting this seat base repaired quickly was getting to be a high priority due to other ‘foundational improvements’ to come.

Joe, true to his word, informed me that replacing the seat bases on these cars is neither a fun nor an easy task.  John, being the gullible guy he is, didn’t really believe Joe and started getting to work. Unfortunately Joe was right (again) as these seat bases are not only used to bolt the seat to the floor board, but to also bolt the seat bottom to the top, house various sensors, motors and connectors and also position the seat belt - which doesn’t attach to the floor.  Everything seems to be self contained in these seats.

Thankfully I was able to get into the groove after a couple hours and I had the seat base replacement going in nicely. I was all the way up to the penultimate step (plugging in the motors before bolting down the seat base) before I realized I HAD THE WRONG BASE for my car. Joe’s seat base had the memory seats while mine did not.  So at this point I had a brand new, clean, good condition seat base in my car that I couldn’t use, nor could I realistically drive the car due to the current seat position needed to facilitate a base R&R. I couldn’t continue the rest of the week and drop off my car to get other work done like this, nor could I afford to pay a shop to correct something that should, theoretically, be a rather simple fix.  No, the only option I had at this point was to R&R the seat base with my original one until I had a better idea. Joe said to replace his motors with mine to make his seat base work for me but honestly at this point I just wanted to keep his base clean so I could give it back to him - the wagon he’s currently restoring is going to be nicer than my car and it just doesn't make sense to sacrifice parts for his car when there should be a plethora of used parts for mine.  No, I really didn’t want to take his base apart. At this point I only had a few days to get my seat base corrected before dropping off my car for this aforementioned other work and no great options for facilitating this… If I had access to a decent you pull it I wouldn’t be in this position but just south of Boston I don’t have many options for this (I really miss Harry’s You-Pull-It in Hazleton, Pa). I did find a salvage yard in Lynn which had a seat base in stock (non-memory, I did my homework haha) for $75.  It was a bit steep for me but I was quickly getting down to the deadline and pulled the trigger.

As soon as the parts guy brought the base around my heart sank due to its overall condition.  Every visible part on it was covered in rust and I had no confidence in the status of the motors.  I thought maybe at the least I could cannibalize my seat base and put parts on this one to make something work so I loaded it up into my wife’s car and headed home.

After inspection we both concurred that playing around with some JB Weld would be the way to go.  I wanted to find a steel rod to sleeve the broken part with for a temp fix but the wife talked me into this course of action.  After hitting Ace Hardware on Park Ave here in town we set to work setting the weld. (Keep in mind I actually got my wife a welder because she knows how to weld but she lost pretty much all the tools we had when she had a nervous breakdown and walked out on her old boss to move back in with me, long story.)  I would have loved to actually weld the piece but we didn’t have that option anymore.

SWMBO is pretty good with her hands and made a very convincing looking temporary weld so after letting it set for several hours I plugged the seat base back in (at this point I’m becoming somewhat of a pro and it only takes me about 1.5 hours at this point to swap them out) with high hopes of having a decent temporary repair made.

First time I adjusted the seat it blew the temp weld to pieces. Wellalrightythen.  Unfortunately I can’t really say I’m surprised.

Back to square one.  At this point I didn’t have enough time to try to cannibalize a seat base to make it work and I had to drop off my car with a wobbly seat base, looking like an idiot because I can’t keep my car in good working order.  Luckily Max at Northeast Autobahn was a great guy and was seemingly understandable of my situation.

Ultimately my whole push to get the seat base fixed was because this SNAFU was getting on my nerves and I could not stand having my seat base rock back and forth while driving.  In addition to all this I DID have a track event coming up (NER SCCA points session #2) and I NEEDED to get it handled by then.

Getting back to Max at Northeast Autobahn... I lucked out with a Bilstein B12 kit off eBay for just under a grand.  This is important because the B12s aren’t available stateside unless you order from overseas. Luckily Rally Shop World in Poland was selling some sets so I clicked “Buy it now” on eBay and waited for shipping information.  Based on various internet suggestions this kit proved to be the best available for our cars for the price and I have to agree, the initial ride impressions are more confidence-inspiring.  The first thing I noticed was the steering feel seemed much improved. Honestly this made a bigger impression on me than the reduced dive on braking and acceleration and reduced suspension travel.  It DOES hit bumps with a bit more oomph but that is to be expected with the stiffer Eibachs and valving on the Bilsteins to work with the Eibach springs.

I do have to agree with Loretta on this one, love is the foundation for my relationship with this car, I just wish it was a foundation built a bit more solid.

Project Seat Base Unfcuk Part #2 coming soon…

chknhwk HalfDork
5/19/19 7:55 a.m.

Yay!  Racing!  

It has been a few years since I have been able to get onto any track other than digital ones so I was quite excited to sign up for the New England Region’s SCCA Points Session #2, hosted at Devens Airfield in Ayer, MA.  

Unfortunately not everybody shared my excitement - most notably my wife.  “Don’t break your car” “Don’t f___ it up” “Be careful” blah blah blah Didn’t help that most people at work were shocked and apalled when I said I was going to take my car racing.  “Don’t break your car” “Don’t f___ it up” Ugh. Come on people, I’ve only had one accident (on track). I’ll be fine. (And no, this isn’t foreshadowing, the car actually did really well - nothing broke.  That I know of...)

Long story short we load up both cars (in case something breaks) and head to Ayer.  It is still pretty early when we get on site so we find some decent parking spots and unload the car.  As I’m cleaning and getting my numbers on the car (1 NFSP) an E46 M3 wagon decides to park next to me.

Wait, what?  My wife and I were desperately trying to figure out what tricks the car gods (and obviously our eyes) were playing on us.  An E46 M3 wagon??  Oh I GOTTA talk to this guy.

Turns out he swapped out the entire drivetrain from an M3 and dumped it in his wagon.  Along with the requisite bodywork. Yes, it had the fender flares and everything from a stock M3.  Gorgeous isn’t quite the word for it.

Oh, and did I mention it was green?

So here we are, about 7 am getting ready to race and I’d already hit the highlight of the day.  Le sigh.

I end up walking the paddock for a bit and do two course walk-downs and start making friends, seeing what everybody in this group is like.  I got some good tips and pointers but mostly people walked away with an incredulous or unbelievable look on their face when I tell them I’m just here to slowly get back into it, I’m not going to be pushing the car today.

Why does everybody think I’m going to wreck??

Now today’s course was rather - weird.  It was a series of several slaloms and - that was it.  Pretty much just slaloms. Slaloms everywhere. Immediately I’m starting to get worried about the front end push on my car and how the AWD will handle the short transitions.  Most of my ‘track time’ is in the form of HPDE’s at VIR, Mid-Ohio, BeaveRun, etc. but I haven’t been on an autocross track in about 15 years. I don’t remember what it’s like but I’m worried.  With this trepidation in hand I do my first corner work of the morning for heat #1 and get ready to line up for heat #2 when I’m released.

First thing I do is grab an instructor.  Very nice man but I cannot remember his name.  Asks me a couple questions about the car to which I reply “mostly stock, just wheels, tires and a Bilstein kit”.   I tell him my goal is to just go slow and get back into the groove. He doesn’t look like he believes me.

We finish our run and he looks at me and says “Well, that was slow”.  Yeah, I wasn’t kidding here people. 79.432 seconds. Most people around me were in the mid-high 60’s.  He got out of my car and I didn’t see him the rest of the day.

Now that I was kind of armed with the track layout I lined up for my second run in the heat and got a bit more comfortable with where I was and dropped my time by ten seconds to a 69.673.  I’d like to say this was a huge accomplishment but really all I did was push the gas a bit harder, haha. My third run of the morning showed more improvement with a three second drop to 66.756.  Great! I was running close to the same times as others I’d seen when I first came in - on their first run… Now many were close to sub-60 second runs. I had to remind myself that I was here to race myself, not anybody else.  Besides I’d already won my class as I was the only FSP on the track.

Wait?  FSP? Isn’t that the racing ring for lightweight, FWD beasts that have been winning the nationals for the last few years?  Um, yep. Why am I in that group? I’m guessing because there is no GSP and my car wouldn’t fit into GS, either (where my car would be if I hadn’t added stupid wide wheels and tires).  According to the latest rule book I found it should be somewhere in FSP where I will most likely never be competitive. Great, I don’t want to win anyway - I just want to improve my times and enjoy myself on track.  :D

After lunch I decided to really start pushing what I thought my car could do and I was immediately rewarded with a lot of push in the front end and a DNF.  Remember what I said about slaloms? About halfway through the second set I had a niggling thought in the back of my brain “wow, this is much easier than it was the first time…”  Just as I hit the last cone I realized I was going on the wrong side of the gates! No wonder it was easier, haha. I got a 63.108 that run had mixed feelings. On one hand I had dropped another three seconds and now I was in that area where it feels like the only thing holding you back is skill-level but on the other hand I didn’t actually run the course.  I tried to not let that deter me as I lined up for my penultimate run. I tried to relax a bit with my inputs and pay more attention to what was in front of me and came away with a 63.212, however I did hit one cone. No idea why but I had forgotten to turn off my traction control that run. Next run, however, I found out that with no traction control on she will spin the rear tires.  I didn’t expect that, especially with running 245/40-17 Michelin Pilot Sport Cups and AWD in an automatic…

My goal for my last run was to beat my best time with no coneage unfortunately I ran about the same time and still managed to hit one cone on exit.  :(

Overall results (although I’m not yet sure what all the numbers on the right mean):


I thought it was a great event and I can’t wait to get back out and see what I can do to stop the front end from pushing as much.  I know it’s all slow in, fast out but I just couldn’t get the right combination of brake and gas to keep from overdriving some of the tighter turns.  As far as mods it looks like sway bars are fair game so I am looking at some custom front bars again (my first set went with my first X-Type I sold years ago).

If anybody has any advice I’m all ears!

chknhwk Dork
9/2/19 12:51 p.m.

I swear the car gods hate me.   I feel like I'm going backwards more than forwards.  

In an attempt to plug the hole somewhere in my car (water leaking in right over the PCM - how I managed to have not create a short is beyond me) I pulled the windshield cowl off along with the cabin filter housing.  I redid the gasket material with clear silicon, both hoping it would seal and also hoping it would come off easy if needed, but no luck.  It doesn't leak if the car is sitting but as soon as I'm driving or go through a car wash it pours into my floorboard.  Going to climb up under the dash and see if I can find a hole through there.

Lately the wife has been driving the Jag because her commute is only four miles round trip versus my 30 in Boston traffic.  So far my gas costs have been cut in two but this is how she repays me:

Now I have some sort of ground issue as when trying to turn left my drivers' rear brake light turns into a disco.  


I am so very, very tired.  Currently have no way to easily work on the car due to condo association rules - trying desperately to get out and purchase something with a garage.

</rant>  Sorry, just needed to vent.

chknhwk Dork
11/23/19 7:25 a.m.

Just can't win at life. 

Vicki got t-boned in an intersection and the frame is bent so we had to write her off. 

Picked up an Audi A3 hatchback for now. Hopefully I'll be able to afford a 2017 XE R-Sport in the next couple years...

mr2s2000elise Dork
11/23/19 8:35 a.m.

Sorry to hear 

Agent98 Reader
11/23/19 1:46 p.m.

As long as you're ok....on to the next adventure!

chknhwk Dork
12/8/19 7:41 a.m.

Plain, nondescript silver hatchback, LOL.  I refer to him as The Beater.

Wish I could have afforded another Jaguar but I think I'm done with X-Types.  :(  Saving up for a fun car!

mr2s2000elise Dork
12/8/19 9:51 a.m.

Congrats on the audi 

Vigo MegaDork
12/8/19 10:57 p.m.

I have learned about letting significant others drive things i'm actually invested in.  I get that sometimes things happen that are out of a driver's control but given that I've 'somehow' beat the odds for 20 years and am still yet to have any major accident other than a customer car that actually flipped over due to a mechanical issue, I have no good reason not to stick to my guns. Sigh. 

It was a very cool car. 

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