Welcome to my journal.
Relax, stay a while.
Give me a suggestion.

e-tuning subaru tune sti wrx dyno
psi tucson auto performance car shop
sti return

Return of Goldilocks


So it’s actually happening. Out with the old, and in with the…old? Feels pretty weird as I never thought when I was loading the STi up on the truck that I’d ever see this car back again. Feels awesome. What’s best is the owner has taken very good care of her!

Upon her arrival in DC, the delivery driver totally trashed the bumper. Sucked, but, this 08 Aspen White is sporting a complete 2011+ front end swap. Huzzaaaah!

for sale

For Sale….what?!


Ya, crazy huh? Stick with me here.

So in February, I reluctantly sold my 2008 STi to a great guy in DC. He loves the car, as did I. He’s buying a house in the burbs, and his commute to work will be around 100 miles a day. So, while he doesn’t want to, he has to sell it.

This is where I re-enter the picture. Ever since I sold the car I regretted it. I put a TON of hard work and money into building the car exactly how I wanted it, and now it’s for sale…and I want it back. As much as I think the FXT is a rare, beautiful and gorgeous specimen of a Subaru, the hassle of building engines and swapping transmissions is less appealing than buying the work I had done right before.

This means the FXT is for sale. I have 3 interested parties already, but, I thought I’d put this out there for everyone who has expressed some bro love for this car. If you want it, act quickly. Send me an email if interested!

I paid $19.5 for it, and have since added about $1500 in parts, labor + tunes. Selling for $19k firm. Tucson, AZ pickup, or I can ship at buyers expense.

FULL MOD LIST – I’ve had the car for ~4k miles, runs very strong and FAST :)

-VF48 (around 6k miles on it)
-07 STi TMIC
-ERZ Downpipe (catless), custom mid pipe
-Prodrive axleback
-Cobb Short Ram intake
-Cobb V2 Access port with custom tune from Phatbotti (91 octane)
-296whp @ 6600rpm \\ 290wtq @ 3880rpm
-AEM fuel pump (less than 1k miles on it, bought it for the new tune)
-AEM UEGO Install w/data logging cable

Suspension / Driveline:
-Cobb 25mm sway (rear), Whiteline 22m sway front, new Kartboy Endlinks
-Tein Street Coilovers
-STI rear aluminum lateral links
-Rota T2W 18×9.5 custom painted
-07 STI Brembo brakes in front, 06/07 WRX 2 Pots on rear (painted gold)
-Hankook 265/35/18 Ventus EVO (tons of tread on them still + full certificates at Discount Tire)

Exterior / Interior:
-OEM FXT STi front lip + OEM STi stickers/badges
-JDM Forester STi hood scoop + diffuser
-2005 WRX black seats w/ stock seat heaters (same seats as 07 STi, just not blue)
-STi floor mats
-Subaru dog cage
-Kenwood touch screen DVD/ Radio ect..(~10 months old)
-Plenio 7” touch screen Navigation (maps are out of date, but looks killer)
-STi shift knob

Maintenance – From previous owner
-Radiator has been changed, vf39 blew up and caused radiator to die, which is why it now has a VF48 :)
-Replaced water pump & timing belt
-Did a non WOT compression test, all cylinders were 105 across the board, if I had done WOT they would have been 150 = perfect
-full synthetic oil from start (@99k miles now)
-NGK Iridum laser cut plugs changed at 85k miles

Screen Shot 2013-09-07 at 9.15.55 PM

Tuning done!


296whp @ 6600rpm \\ 290wtq @ 3880rpm

While I’ve had the tune finished since July, I’ve been busy with work and haven’t really taken the car out that much…since it’s been hellishly hot in AZ. Temps have cooled off recently (monsoon season) and took it out for a ride today :) Car handles fantastic, the brakes grab much harder than the STi did, and it sounds fantastic to boot. I’m digging this FXT!

Here’s a quick shot of the powerband. It’s certainly nothing compared to the STi, but hey, its a tiny turbo, on 91pump, from a 100k motor!

Current mods:
-2007 STi TMIC
-Cobb Short-ram intake
-Grimmspeed EBCS
-Prodrive catback (sounds awesome)
-STi Brembos (painted gold)
-18×9.5 Rota T2W with 265x35x18 Hankook Ventus EVO12 (nice tires!)

Suspension Testing


I finally got around to renting some lift time (DMAFB allows you to use their lifts AND tools for dirt cheap, pretty awesome!) and installed a new front sway bar, Kartboy end links, and got the car aligned.

Wow, BIG BIG difference now. The Fozzy grips like a bear with its 18×9.5 Rota T2R’s, and 265/35/18 Hankooks Ventus EVO12.

The rear passenger wheel bearing is toast, and sometimes that induces a little wobble on a hard turn, but I picked up a whole new hub assembly for free (eek!) and will be hopefully swapping that over soon.

white sands

New Journey


She’s home. On the journey home she stopped in White Sands National Monument.

She needs work, and love, and then it’ll be time for fun.


Here we go!


I’m currently in the process of heading out to South Carolina to pick up this beauty. She’s a rare 2007 Forester XT Sports (only 500 made with a manual 5-speed transmission)! The original owner has taken great care of her and I’m excited to have her in my garage. Monday can’t come soon enough!


What’s next?


Been thinking a lot since I sold the STi of where I wanted to go. Go big with a GTR (not exactly financially smart right now), go with a NA big block (like Z06), or stick with Subaru. Something about the utility of a hatchback is incredibly appealing to me, not sure why. I’m also really attracted to sleepers in general, I don’t like drawing attention to myself in both exhaust note and looks…

I’ve always loved the Forester STi and really wished SOA would make one. I’d buy it. But the build process is also part of the fun. So, I’m leaning towards making a more comfortable ride, but keep it fun as well. 400whp Forester XT? Yes please :)

2013-03-08 08.32.25

Parting ways…


Well I can’t believe it.  The car has been perfect, and faster than I ever imagined.  But, a baby is on the way and I’m eyeing something new.  Think GTR or Porsche 911 Turbo.  Maybe down the road, but I’ll be back with something hot someday :)

I listed the car for sale, and within 2 days it was sold.  Some lucky guy in the DC area is taking delivery of my baby.  Very bittersweet.  Didn’t think I’d sell it, and didn’t think it would sell so quickly.  Until next time…


Birthday drive


It was my birthday and Mt. Lemmon had just opened so I thought I’d take the afternoon and drive up.  Although there were plenty of annoying drivers who couldn’t read the “Slower Traffic Use Pullouts”, it was definitely worth it.  I was walking through knee-high snow in some parts to get some photos.  Time for a wash again!


Transmission Interlock Arm


Just in case anyone else has the problem I’ve experienced, here is what happened.  So in a rapid shift from 2nd to 3rd gear (a la drag race), the gear never landed in 3rd, and the shifter went completely loose.  It would travel completely forward and back with no resistance, and it was stuck in 4th gear.  I knew it wasn’t major (like a broken shift fork or even gears) as it drove just find, no grinding noises, and nothing seemed to be broken internally that would cause a major rebuild.  I think I got lucky though!

$100 in parts for 2 interlock arms and pins.  I went ahead and replaced the synchros for 2nd and 3rd gear,  2nd driven gear, and also the 1-2 and 3-4 shift fork, as the plastic tabs were just about gone.  Seals were also replaced as well.  Wow, what a difference it makes!  Shifting in lower gears is SO much easier and is buttery smooth.  No more problems shifting into 3rd at high speed, works like a charm.

Broken shift linkage


I went on a cruise last night, and it was glorious.  I was finally pushing the car and holy cow she is fast!  I did a launch to get some practice back in, and the shift from 2nd to 3rd never connected.  It never shifted well at high RPM from 2nd to 3rd.  Whatever happened, it never went in to gear.  The shifter then was completely loose, and could freely travel front and back while driving.

It’s currently stuck in 4th gear.  I took her to Archie and we checked it out.  All the linkage under the car is connected and looks fine.  So, its likely the shift fork inside the transmission.  Crossing my fingers it’s ONLY the shift fork or pin.  FML.


553whp + 527wtq


Seriously, Phatbotti Tuning is freaking awesome.  It’s not a completely final tune, but its probably at the point of its power.  It’s running pretty low timing advance, and AFR’s are pretty safe.  I’m a happy camper!

STi Snow

First portrait


I never had any really interesting shots of the STi before “the incident” and we just got some of the first “real” snow of the season.  Thought I’d go up for a quick photo!

subaru engine rotated bay sti ej25 photo

One Week Later


I’m still beyond thrilled with the work that Archie did.  Everything is just humming along perfectly.  I took a few quick pics of the engine bay to show off some of the custom work and piping involved with this setup.  I’d say Archie made it look a LOT better than it was before, but, its still a really ugly engine bay if you ask me.  Subaru seriously needs to hire some designers to figure out a better way to make these look pretty.  Theres about 10,000 hoses, cables and crap going every which way.  Oh well, it’s all about the power for me :)

The tune is still in progress, but its making about the same power as it was before (with the Dom1.5) and I’m only at 20psi.  500 miles on this baby, and at 1500 miles is when I can finally rev past 5000rpm.  It’s torture.


First Crank


The first time I met with Archie about the installation of my new engine, I mentioned that I wanted to make the engine bay a bit tidy.  In my opinion, Subaru has a pretty ugly engine bay, and is very hard to tuck and shave anything.  Archie kept that in mind and was able to hid a few cables and relocate a few pieces that stood out like a sore thumb.

When I arrived to take the car home, I immediately noticed that it actually looked better than it did before!  There’s still some things I plan on doing, but overall I was very happy.

I reflashed the ECU with the tune I got from Phatbotti Tuning (these guys rock!) and started logging some parameters right before we cranked.  She purrs like nothing else!  I knew that I had a lot of modifications to factor in to the base tune, but Ron nailed it spot on.  Perfect 1100rpm.  We let it warm up to temp for about 20 minutes, while checking for any leaks, burping the coolant system, and also checking the power steering fluid.  Once it was warm I drove it around the parking lot to get the power steering pump primed and let the engine rev up a few times.  The engine is sooooo smooth, and it’s much quieter than before (I had CP pistons in my last build).  It feels absolutely fantastic.

I pulled in (less than 1 mile now) the shop bay and we immediately changed the oil and new filter.  Not a whole lot of debris and everything looked great.  We topped her off (again) with Amsoil break-in oil and then went out on a test-drive to make sure everything seemed right.  We took the frontage road a few miles with lots of engine breaking (as per the break-in instructions from Rallispec).  Revs from 2k-4pm and full engine breaking.  We came back to the shop and Archie re-torqued all the bolts he could access after it was warm and then I went on my way.

I am absolutely 100% thrilled with the job that Archie and his crew did on my car.  There was SO much attention to detail in everything they did.  Archie is very meticulous and I can see it in his work.  If you have ANY performance upgrades, plans, questions, whatever, Archie is the best of the best, hands-down.  Check him out on facebook and give him a ring!

A few notes:
-Coolant temps were perfect and were just the same as it was before
-My boost gauge is showing a solid 20hg in vacuum.  It was NEVER that high, and usually ran around 15-16hg before, so I’m glad to see it higher.  Very good sign :)
-We also installed a new clutch release bearing as it looked pretty bad :(  I’m not sure how if you can feel it’s effect while driving, but I can’t tell that the clutch pressure and grab is much smoother and more precise than before.


Progress Notes


Archie has been doing a great job and I just wanted to jot down a few notes before I forget them.  There’s always hiccups along the way, but pretty minor IMO.

The Five-O Motorsport Injectors have a few tabs on the injector body that needed to be filed down.  They didn’t clear the TGV housing, but Five-O said that it wouldn’t void the warranty to grind them down.  It just seems silly to have them on there to begin with :/

The Perrin Fuel rails actually don’t look half bad.  I thought they’d be hideous, but, they’re OK.

The Composite TGV Deletes are a good build, very light, and act as one big phenolic spacer.  But because they are a composite material (plastic like), they do not conduct electricity.  Which means the ground on the block does NOT make it to the intake manifold.  Archie had to attach a ground from the battery to the intake manifold in order to crank.

P&L Rotated Turbo Kit Review


While Archie @ PSI has been working away on getting my car back in top shape, there have been a few hiccups along the way.  This is pretty much expected (at least I did) for any major modification.  Hopefully something here will help anyone out.

The parts all looked great.  Good welds, the coating looked great too.  The up-pipe + turbo seemed to fit great on the engine stand before it was lowered into the car.  But, about the only thing that actually “fit” together pretty well was the oil feed and return lines.  I already had the P&L AVCS oil feed kit (since I broke my factory oil feed hard line a few months back during a turbo swap), and the kit had just enough reach for the rotated turbo position.  But once it was lowered in the car we started to see lots of issues.

1.  The intake.  I didn’t realize it at the time of purchase, but the intake has ZERO ports on it for vacuum lines, and/or BPV recirculation.  While a BOV (vent to air) is tuneable, I prefer to drive a quieter car, and my Turbosmart Kompact BPV is very quiet and I like that.

P&L includes a triangular plate which rotates the turbo coolant reservoir to a different location so you can slide in the intake.  The problem was the gap between the ABS (brake) lines and the newly relocated coolant reservoir.  The intake is a 3″ pipe and it simply would NOT fit in between.

Archie was able to custom fab an adapter to go up and over this gap, and it looks quite nice now.  He also welded in some vacuum lines and a recirculation port for the BPV.  Archie is THE MAN.

2.  The External wastegate would run into the power steering lines.  This wasn’t documented in my instructions, as the instructions and photos were all for an 05 or 06 STi.  We called P&L and they said you just have to bend the lines towards the firewall.  Well this sounds great in theory, but i’d rather not be bending any hard lines wherever possible, and this could have simply been avoided had they altered the location of the turbo anyway.  There is a LOT of room in this area, and it could have been avoided.  This is one of the reasons (and the intake issue above) why I think this kit was first designed for an 05/06 STi, and then never really modified for an 08+, even though they say it was updated.

3.  The coolant lines included in the kit were too short, like 5-6 inches too short.

The only other gripe I have with this is that not much attention was spent on P&L’s part to make this kit look pretty.  There are plenty of custom turbo kits out there, and I felt like I was buying a high quality kit here.  In the end I think I would have rather purchased the Perrin unit, as it actually looks nice when its all installed.  But the P&L intrigued me because it was designed to work with a TMIC, which I wanted to keep.

In the end we made it work, but a LOT of extra work and changes were involved.

End is in sight!


Archie @ PSI has been incredibly professional and gracious while helping me with my rebuild.  He has let me come down from time to time just to check in, and take photos of the assembly.  I’m so glad I decided to have a professional do this rather than myself :)

Cylinder heads were installed, as well as a brand new Subaru 11mm Oil pump.  The original water pump was fine, and new cam covers were also installed.  Also, the heat exchanger was also replaced…trying to clean out the original is near impossible from all the debris from the spun bearing…not worth contaminating the whole thing.  It’s coming together, FINALLY!

P&L Rotated Turbo Kit


When I was looking for a rotated kit I had always heard great things about P&L’s fabrication and quality.  I got a smoking deal on a brand new kit and it just arrived.  It has received brand new ceramic coatings on both the uppipe and downpipe.  A Tial 44mm EWG is included, as well as their own custom intake.  The kit was designed so that the EWG was ported back into the downpipe to keep the exhaust note quiet.  This kit also includes all the oil lines and a replacement power steering line, very nice.

What interested me most about the P&L kit was that it was designed to be used with a TMIC.  I’m not a fan of cutting up the bumper, and my Spearco TMIC was more than adequate for my needs…plus I want the fastest spool possible.  Excited to see how it all fits in the engine bay!

Parts are here!


A lot of my parts have been arriving over the past few days, and it’s finally feeling real.  The cylinder heads have been installed and I’ll be dropping by the shop to go take some photos and check on the build.  I might be driving it this weekend, woohoo!

Above are some of the photos of the following parts:
-Perrin EL Headers (painted with high-temp black paint), wrapped with Titanium Heat Wrap
-TiC (Turn In Concepts) Composite TGV Deletes
-Torque Solutions Air Pump Delete plates
-Perrin Fuel Rails
-Five-O Motorsports 1400cc Injectors

Garret GTX-3076R Turbo


Although I was very happy with the Blouch Dominator 1.5xtr turbo I had installed previously, I was ready to make a long-term decision and switch to a rotated turbo setup.  This would mean selling my current exhaust and intake setup and getting something new.

I decided that the new GTX series of Garret dual ball-bearing turbos was something that would be perfect.  I went with the popular .82 A/R turbine housing.  It still has great spool up and street manners, yet has a LOT more potential than even a 3.0xtr turbo.  I don’t plan on going crazy with it, but I do think I’ll be pushing more power, while being a bit easier on the engine.  I’d rather run less timing and less boost and still hit 400whp like I did before.  Now I can get close to 450whp without having to really strain the motor or turbo.

Here is a 360* panoramic view of the turbo!

Rallispec Shortblock


Once the engine was torn down, it became apparent that the pistons were not salvageable.  The rods looked decent, and the block would need to be re-honed for new pistons.  Knowing this was going to be several thousand dollars, I decided to sit on it.  I almost was serious about selling-it as-is.  At the beginning of November I decided to keep it, rebuild the engine, and just enjoy the car.

I decided to just bite the bullet and do it right the first time and ordered the Rallispec Street Block.  They have a very fantastic reputation in the Subaru community, and many of the great tuners I had spoken with had only good things to say about them.

I called Dave up and he told me from order to shipping would be about 4-5 business days.  I was elated, and they were true to their word.  4 days after ordering I got the tracking information, and the awesome people at Fedex delivered it to my door.

I busted out my Hasselblad H3D-39 and setup a quick photo table in the garage to get some high quality photos.  Once I took a few, I had a cool idea to create a 360* panoramic viewer of the engine.  Enjoy!

Rod Knock


This is a crappy video from my iPhone, but this is what rod knock sounds like.  I towed the car to a trusted shop to get a diagnosis.  I was hoping it was only something wrong with the valve cover being hit, but no, it was my worst fear; rebuild the engine.

Rod knock happens for a few reasons, but for me, it was oil starvation.  1200 miles before this video, I had the KillerBee Oil Pickup installed by IA Performance (who is awesome btw).  New oil change and everything.  But, somehow within those 1200 miles I had lost almost ALL of the oil in the pan.  Thats about 4.2 quarts worth.  Upon further inspection (once the engine was removed), the oil return from the Turbo had a missing clamp.  While this shouldn’t be a problem, I think that when the turbo was under higher pressure it started to leak.  It must have leaked a lot.  Rock knock also meant that I spun a bearing, which disintegrates the bearing into tiny bits, all inside your engine.  The oil filter was FULL of bearing material.  This means it needs a new turbo, or at least rebuild it.

Lesson learned: check your oil every time you fill up for gas (or at least ever other time)!


Sudden Death


It was still 85* in October, an awesome night to just go out and drive.  I was driving to a friends house, and halfway there my car died.  I had just pulled up to a traffic light, ready to make a right turn.  I had no idea what happened, nor did I suspect what I was about to learn..

Two days prior I had started to hear some knocking noise, loud at times, but only apparent at certain RPM speeds.  Somewhere between 3400-4000rpm is when the knocking was audible, and only upon deceleration.  I had been working on the exhaust a few days before (where the downpipe meets the catback) and just figured I had a loose bolt.  So there I sat at the intersection, and the car won’t start.

I knew I didn’t stall it.  I assumed the battery was dead, because it just wouldn’t turn over.  I pushed it around the corner and into the nearest parking lot; thankfully it was only about 20 yards of pushing.  I sat there with the hood open and tried to understand what was happening.  It seemed to have just come from out of nowhere, and now it won’t even respond.

My friend came to pick me up and we headed over to the nearest auto parts store and got a new battery.  We installed it, and nothing.  This time it didn’t even try to turn over.  She sat stubbornly there, not wanting to budge.  I called a tow truck to have it sent over to a mechanic to get a look at it.  And that is where this journal begins.


Newer Posts