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Old 05-09-2012, 06:58 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default JB's 04 FXT MT5

Contents:
1 (This post): Prelude
2: The Feed, er Drive home.
3: The Baseline
4: Big Work Day
5: Electrical Bits (In Full Color!)

It started two weeks ago when I was cleaning up some old agent queries on ebay. I had one titled "Forester XT" that I had created in '06 when I was getting ready to sell my '98 2.5 RS. At that time I ended up with an '04 XS MT5. I put a lot of mile on the XS over the last 5 and half years, and my wife and I agreed that we'd stretch out having just one payment, on her '09 Legacy, for a while longer: until the XS hit the 200k miles mark. So I didn't expect to start shopping until, oh, maybe Thanksgiving, or even New Years.

But coming home from Sno*Drift Rally this year we had an unfortunate encounter with a deer. It didn't do too much damage, headlight, bug deflector, and fender, oh, and a little ripple in the right door skin. We weren't sure insurance would cover it so we started thinking about a replacement. I looked around, thought about what I'd want to drive next. We needed to keep at least one car that could haul stuff around, and that we could take camping. And, of course, we needed a car that we work rallies with.

I just kept coming up empty. Nothing really excited me. The closest I came was the '09/'10 Tacoma Quadcab. But it had it's issues, not the least of which was that it would only *just* fit in the garage. I just kept coming back to, "I really just want an '04 XT this time."

But two weeks ago, fate had me click on that search, and up popped a beautiful 2004 Aspen White XT, MT5, with under 71,000 miles, and very fairly priced. This past weekend we flew down to Dallas, picked it up, and drove it home.

I had help: first of all, I really have to give props to Texas Vehicle Exchange. Stan and Joseph were great to work with. Matt at Auto Critic made the purchase much more comfortable with an extremely thorough and professional inspection.

Next Up: The Drive Home.

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Old 05-09-2012, 08:46 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Excited to hear the next chapter. Good stuff so far.
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Old 05-10-2012, 03:53 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Part 2: The Drive Home

The plan, as it had been verbalized, was to "be back home by dinner time on Saturday, or at least by bed time". The plan also included a number of restaurants that I had found on Roadfood.com. After being picked up at DFW by the dealership, and a brief approval test drive, we were done with paperwork and on our way very quickly. After a couple of missed turns due to construction on the George Bush Tollway, we were headed north out of Dallas.

A note about the tollways in Texas, you can't pay them.. It's all done via transponders or they bill the holder of the license plate. Apparently they don't bother billing temp tag holders, we were told to just not worry about it.

Just before arriving at our first stop, I notice that the hill holder doesn't seem to be doing much. It was only a slight grade so I wasn't totally sure. "maybe it's just loose."

First stop (lunch): Clark's Outpost, Tioga, Texas. It's a hole in the wall place, in the middle of pretty much nowhere, but the brisket and sausage is pretty tasty. They have a brick from the original South Fork Ranch, in a glass case, in the entry way. As we were paying the bill, the owner stopped by to greet us, he looked at our glasses, and said, "here, let me put those in to-go cups for you, it's getting mighty hot out there!" ... 2 quarts of heavy-on-the-syrup Sierra Mist later...

There's not much signage, on our route, when you cross into Oklahoma, the pavement changes, and there's a casino. Oh, and no 93 octane gas. There is Red Bull, though, and that'll get us through to supper.

Next stop (Supper): Clanton's Cafe, Vinita, OK. First, let me say the tollway in Oklahoma has an interesting pay system: get on, pay a toll, get a ticket, stop at a toll booth along the way, and pay a little more, $4, unless you have the ticket from the last toll booth and then it's $2. When we get off the tollway at Vinita, we turn in our ticket and get $1.75 back. Anyway, Clanton's Cafe. It's a little, bustling place, clearly popular with the locals, famous for their country fried steak and the "chicken and dressing" dinners. We had one of each, and agreed that both were worthy of fame. The chocolate pie was good too, with a crust that favored the "flaky" end of the "tender but flaky" spectrum. (If you are a Good Eats fan, you know exactly what I'm talking about.

We jumped back on the highway, giving back our $1.75 toll, and headed for Joplin. I'm a ham radio operator, and a trained storm spotter, so Joplin has a little extra meaning. So far we've had 3G signal almost continuously, so it was pretty easy to find a place for the night. We ended up staying at the Drury Hotel, and I would stay there again! I'm glad we stopped in Joplin, and had the opportunity to see the tornado damage from last year, and more importantly the rebuilding that is happening. (I'll link in some photos later)

We're about 250 miles down the road, and, as this is my first turbo car, I'm still not getting the 1-2 shift as smooth as I'd like, but we're settled into the car, and it is treating us well. At some point along the way, we've noticed that the back seat, flip-out cup holder is broken. Not the end of the world, but needs fixed.

It's only a little more than two hours up to Kansas City, but with spending a little time in Joplin, it's going to be lunch time! With nothing really solid planned for lunch in KC, we reached out to our foodie friends, who directed us to Oden's Family BBQ in Belton, MO. We didn't go wrong! Super friendly service, great BBQ. Get whatever you want, but make sure you get some of the "burnt ends". Supposedly they are the ends and pieces from the brisket, but what they certainly are is super tender, and super tasty! Top off the tank, still only 91 octane, and my wife takes the wheel. Somehow we've timed it so she has to deal with traffic getting out of Kansas City, and again as we get into Des Moines, IA. We wanted ice cream, but we had already figure out that we were going to be to late for Bauder Pharmacy, so we opted for Dairy Zone, instead. It's a little neighborhood place, with nice creamy soft serve. Though, now looking through yelp.com, I want to try "Classic Frozen Custard" too.

It's at this point that I have my first "turbo moment", I'm trying to turn left out on to main street, and traffic isn't giving me too many opportunities, so I pick my hole, and without giving it too much thought, boot it. Everything goes right, and I get a perfect launch, except that I'm quickly remind of how much more get-up-and-go the XT has versus my XS! I'm left with a serious grin on my face, my wife, now back in the co-driver's seat, says nothing.

From just south of Ames until nearly Mason City, we're in the edge of a storm front with significant winds, and a temperature falling nearly 20 degrees in the course of an hour of driving. At one the hood flexes enough in the crosswinds that I though that it had unlatched. A quick stop proves it is still latched, and no damage was done. From there on it was smooth sailing past the wind farms of Northern Iowa and Southern Minnesota. After a quick stop to pick up my wife's car at friend's house, it is indeed, just in time for a quick dinner. Since we had managed to avoid the fast food all weekend, a few Chilitos from Zantigo's fit the bill.

And so we wrapped up our whirl-wind road trip, bringing home the XT with just a little more than a thousand more miles on the clock, and not so much as the slightest complaint the whole way.

Next Up: The baseline.

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Old 05-10-2012, 01:39 PM   #4 (permalink)
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The chocolate pie was good too, with a crust that favored the "flaky" end of the "tender but flaky" spectrum. (If you are a Good Eats fan, you know exactly what I'm talking about.
Hell yeah! One of my favorite shows. Alton needs to come out with episodes faster. Good read so far.
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Old 05-11-2012, 11:25 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default 3. The Baseline

2004 Forester XT
Aspen White
MT5
Cold weather package, subwoofer, full-sized spare, no sunroof.
70,822 miles when I took delivery.

Inexpensive Mods
----------------
Cabin air cleaner - done
LED interior lights - need to order
Arm rest extension - done
Window gussets (two big binder clips) - done
transfer light bar with Hella 4000 Compact lamps.
Transfer STi pitch stopper, and trans-mount.

Performance
------------
STI MC and booster (awaiting delivery)
4-pot fronts (being relocated from the '04 XS they are currently on)
Spacer between steering wheel and pedals - Going to Team O'Neil Rally School in a week.
STI motor mounts (I have a set on my XS, but it would be pain to swap them around)

Maintenance
-------------
Engine oil
gear and diff lube
hood insulator is dissolving
belly pan, aka "under cover" is beat up, and the oil drain door is gone.

(more to come!)

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Old 05-11-2012, 11:59 AM   #6 (permalink)
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That sounds like an interesting journey.
How long is the drive home?

I drive 8.5 hours to get my car and that feels too far already.

What is spacer between steering wheel and pedal thing? I never heard of it before.
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Old 05-11-2012, 12:22 PM   #7 (permalink)
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That sounds like an interesting journey.
How long is the drive home?

I drive 8.5 hours to get my car and that feels too far already.
It was about 16 hours of drive time

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What is spacer between steering wheel and pedal thing? I never heard of it before.
better known as "The Driver"
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Old 05-11-2012, 12:39 PM   #8 (permalink)
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It was about 16 hours of drive time



better known as "The Driver"
You got me there. I never heard somebody else refer it as that
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Old 05-11-2012, 03:00 PM   #9 (permalink)
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At some point along the way, we've noticed that the back seat, flip-out cup holder is broken. Not the end of the world, but needs fixed.
Mine was missing too, I picked up one at the local dealership for just under $50 after tax. For the complexity of it the price didn't seem too bad and now I have a total of 4 cupholders

Can't wait for pics!
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Old 05-12-2012, 07:09 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Place Holder
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Old 05-12-2012, 07:25 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Default First Real Work Day

First of all, one quick plug: (I get nothing in return, I just want their business to succeed so that I can keep using them when I need to) First Gear Garage in Eden Prairie is a great do it yourself car care facility.

Today I dug into the car a bit.
Oil change, to switch over to Mobil1
Replaced the gear oil with Mobil1 GL5
Installed the block heater (thus replacing most of the coolant)

I have to say, this car comes apart SO NICELY!
The heat shield bolts all yielded with little effort, and there was no drama with any of the exhaust nuts or bolts.

The only drama today was that the fiber gasket on the block heater broke as I tightened the heater down. Since I had the tube of Ultra Copper gasket maker out, I just dried the heater off again, and made a seal with that. It didn't leak on the 30 minute drive home, so I think I dodged a bullet on that one!

Even with a good funnel and hose, refilling the transmission with the intercooler in place stinks.

The STi brake booster and MC arrived today. It may have to wait until I get back from Team O'Neil though. And then it will be a big push to get everything else done too, so we can put the XS up for sale. The XS has developed a squeal or squeak under hard acceleration, but that's different post.

That big push will include the brakes (booster, mc, 4pot fronts), rally lights, rally odometer).

I'll get some pics posted too!
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Old 06-04-2012, 11:52 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Default Big Work Day: MC, Booster, and caliper swap

Sunday, June 3, 2012

First a couple of observations..

1: I stink at remembering to take pictures while I'm working on the car. (Next time I'll have the lovely wife come out and take some pictures for me!)
2: I dislike working with brake fluid.

The plan for yesterday was to swap the master cylinder and booster (Purchased the MC/Booster on ebay). Swap the front calipers (between the XS and XT) as I didn't want to give up the 4-pot front calipers. Reconnect the hill holder. Install Goodrdge stainless brake lines.

I also ended up taking the driving lights, and attendant wiring off of the XS (if it had be "right" I would have left it*), and swapping my RedTop battery to the XT.

Learning how to to get the intercooler out was the first thing accomplished, and one of the last things... It's a lot easier to just unbolt the hard pipe going across the front of IC.

Battery: out. Washer tank: out. Dang! The line down to the hill holder is in the way! Using a syringe from a surplus store I was able to get most of the fluid out of the resevoir, then I disconnected the two brake lines from the MC and capped them off. Using the cut off lines the venodr gave me with my STi MC, I was able to keep the old MC from dripping too much while I separated it from the booster and removed it from the car.

The four bolts holding the booster in were surprisingly easy to access once I took the lower (knee) valence out. A good selection of ratchet extensions comes in handy!

In hindsight, maybe I didn't have to remove the fuel lines (We all know what a PITA they are to disconnect. Suffice it to say there was a lot of swearing involved!), too, but they seemed to be in the way, along with that one hard brake line down to the hill holder! But after some (more) swearing under breath and some gentle bending I was able to get the booster out.

Putting the new booster in was challenging too, since it isn't very "aerodynamic" in that direction. It managed to get hooked on every item under the hood that it possibly could have gotten hung up on.

With a minor sense of accomplishment I started fitting things back together. New MC in, check. brake lines reconnected, check. input to hill holder re-tightened, check. It take me a few minute to figure out what the two extra should nuts were for... I hadn't re-attached the old MC to the booster yet.

enabling the hill-holder consisted of reconnecting the threaded cable end to the pressure valve. You pretty much have to guess where to set the cable tension, though.

The caliper swaps were pretty easy. One trick I thought of ahead of time was to pick up 2 10mm x 25mm bolts, two matching nuts, and four copper washers. With these I was able to seal off the dangling banjo connectors while I dealt with the calipers themselves.

Once the front calipers were swapped, we did a quick bleed on the XS. It is really due for a full flush, but not this weekend.

At about this point I remembered that I wanted to keep the STi pitch stopper. This was a perfect time to do that.

With the XS back on the ground, I went to work on the rear corners of the XT. The first rear brake line was a pain. I had connected the stainless line to the hard line first and then tried to connect the banjo fitting. That sucked! second corner: banjo fitting first, and then the hardline connector. It makes making the line less twisted much easier!

Someone posted about the goodridge rear lines being too long. That wasn't the case with the set I just installed. I had to adjust where the mount bit in the middle of the line was, but that wasn't a big deal.

The wife had left to run errands, and we agreed that when she returned I'd be ready to bleed the brakes on the XT. I'm still pretty old school when it come to brake bleeding, and while a vacuum kit might have helped this day, simply pumping the pedal works really well too.

I finished putting the XS back together... "Hey, I'd better take the Supertone horns off, too" An hour later, after swearing at my past self for some goofy engineering, the horns were out, and amazingly, I hadn't thrown out the stock horns. However the original mounting bolts ARE seized... OK, that's a project for another day...

In the process of bleeding the XT's brakes, we finished off the liter of Ate SuperBlue that I had opened in the morning. The XS has SuperBlue in it, so some went to those brakes, too.

Much to my surprise the car started and ran on the first try after putting everything back together. The brakes felt good, but the hill holder was hanging on a little too long. It was late and I decided I could fix that on Monday evening.

The bigger surprise came on the way to work this morning, as I pulled away from a traffic light, nearly to work, I could tell immediately, the brakes hadn't released. Instinctively I knew it was the hill holder. I was able to pull off, but not before the fronts were REALLY good and hot. The lever for the valve seems to have stuck, despite the return spring! As soon as I reached in a gave the valve a little nudge it snapped back to the open position. Since I had my hand in there, I was able to back the nut and the jam nut I installed on Sunday off to the end of the cable.

* I had something wrong with the wiring and as a result the relay for the driving lights was energized when the (disabled) DRLs would have come on.
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Old 06-21-2012, 09:43 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Default 5. Electrical bits (In Full Color!)

To power the ham radio, and various other electrical bits, I ran two lengths of 8ga into the cabin. I need to take some more pictures but here are a couple of the results.

I used a Blue Sea fuse block under the driver's seat to distribute the power, and terminated that with Anderson Power Poles as they are the standard amongst most ham operators. The negative/ground goes all the way back to the battery.





Nice and clean so far! It will get its first work out at the Nemadji Trail Rally this weekend.

I have a new found respect for the ICE people who manage to get multiple runs of 0ga from the battery through the firewall and through the cabin. <Or do they go out through the front wheel arch and around?>

Next step: Get the custom upgraded lighting harness from rallylights.com installed.

Last edited by jblewis; 06-21-2012 at 09:53 AM.
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Old 06-28-2012, 11:10 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Default 6. Upgraded headlamp Harness

As promised the next project is the installation of the upgraded headlamp harness. I was prompted to do the upgrade after reading Peaty's description of the install on scoobymods.com My harness is a little different. I'll have two Hella 4000 Compact driving lights out front and wanted an additional relay and leads for them, the fine folks at Susquehanna Motorsports didn't bat an eye at that request, in fact, they had a part number for the assembly.

The one thing I didn't like with Peaty's installation was the how the relay impinged on the battery bay, and I have an additional relay! So I decided to pull out the wheel arch liner. On the off chance you haven't removed that liner, it's pretty easy! there are three screws holding the molded mud guard on, if you have them. Then about a dozen (don't quote me on the number!) plastic retainers, and finally one more screw at 12 o'clock, up by the spring. Then just tug it out of there.


Boy! there's a lot of unused space up in there!

After a little test fitting, I mounted the rack of relays.

The nearest relay socket is actually empty in this photo. I had to remove it to make room for the bolt during installation.

What bolt? Why this one:

Just an M5 socket head cap screw. The SHCS is easy to hold onto with an Allen key. I used a little super copper gasket maker as additional insurance to ward off rust.



At this point you can (mostly) see that I have the power and ground hookups routed through the green grommet so they are aft of the battery. I have the first of four cables routed through the front grommet. The cable in the foreground is for the switch.

Breaching the big grommet into the passenger compartment wasn't hard, just awkward. There is plenty of room at about 12 o'clock on the grommet with lots of room behind it (inside). I used a pick probe to poke a line of four or five pin holes, and then used a hobby knife to connect the dots, resulting in a slit about 3/8 of an inch long.

I took the switch off of the end of the cable, and, using forceps, I pushed each push-on connector through the slit, one more push and the cable housing went through too.

After a little routing, I had this:


The small, illuminated switch SMS provided fit very nicely in the hole left be removing one of the horizontal switch blanks. It's a bit recessed, but it is well out of harm's way!

The red wire is from the fog light mod that Peaty links to.


Back outside the passenger compartment, I routed the three cables for the driving lights and the passenger head lamp across the back side of the front bumper.


I buttoned everything up like Peaty describes, and everything worked perfectly!

One added benefit, I think the "high beam" indicator is not quite as bright as stock.

I'll be mounting the light bar next weekend.
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Old 08-29-2012, 09:52 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Hard to believe it has been two months since my last post! In that time I've mounted the driving lights (several times), installed the skid plate, fabircated a rally odometer mount, fabricated a navigator's light mount, replaced the front sway bar links, and attended the 2012 Ojibwe Forests Rally as the "0" car.

I'll snap some pictures this afternoon and get them posted!

We learned at the rally that the black fabric seats are really hot! They don't breath or wick at all, and our backs and rear ends were VERY sweaty by the end of the day! The wife wants it resolved. I'm thinking STi seats on the Forester bases. I know someone else in the Members' journals has done that swap.
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