Jon Trudel (all images copyrighted)
Shawn Fogg is a pretty cool guy. He's very knowledgeable regarding Z3s, and late last year, he and his wife Melissa bought a house up in Massachussetts. First order of business was to set up his garage. It's a two-car deal, and when it was ready, he mentioned he'd be willing to have people up to change oil, install mods, have their computers checked, and so on.
Some of us (Rachel, Todd Crisset, Dave Todd, and myself, that is) took him up on the standing offer. We started the typical exchange of emails of what to do, when we'd invade, where'd we stay, and so on. We chose St. Patrick's day earlier this year, and for Rachel and myself, we chose to install new brake pads and spark plugs. For the pads, we took Shawn's recommendation - Porterfield R4S pads. They're made of carbon fiber kevlar, and are supposed to emit less brake dust than stock pads. The R4S version is a combination Rally-Street pad, which allows for hard driving as well as street use. A little pricey, but worth it, in my opinion. For Spark Plugs, We chose Bosch Platinum Plus 4s. Todd had recently upgraded from owning a 2.3 liter Z3 to a 3.0 liter Z3, and was interested in fogging his airbox, even though he's got the 3.0. Dave, on the other hand, wanted to upgrade his spark plugs as well.
Then came the issue of logistics. Todd stepped up, and allowed us to stay at his place. Todd, who's a lawyer for Pfizer (where Viagra jokes are not allowed around the office) lives close to Shawn, and he offered his home up to us long-distance travellers. Todd also has a two-car garage, and was more than happy to host. We happily accepted, and arrived on Friday evening. Rachel and Dave arrived seperately from me (I came straight from work), so we could get an early start on Saturday. Todd had put up some good garage decorations. I ended up arriving very late (11 PM or so), and Rachel and Dave had already been there for a while. They both related the fun they had regarding Dave's Flat Tire (recounted here). I was loath to tell them that I'd seen that Dave almost had a flat. Turns out that the fix they got at Manhattan BMW wasn't as permanent as they'd thought. Oh well. We settled in for the night.
The next morning, Dave and Todd got up extra early, to go to the local Tire Store to see if they could get him a replacement tire. Unfortunately, they didn't have an exact match on the tire, so Dave got something else intead. At least it'd allow him to drive!
Anyhow, I finally woke up, and let myself arie slowly.. Eventually Todd and Dave returned, and by this time Rachel was up and washing hers. Since I know how long that takes, I suggested that We go get some breakfast and bring it back. We took turns driving each other's cars (Dave's 2.3, My CAI-equipped 2.8, and Todd's 3.0), and I found the 3.0 to be very loud with the stock exhaust, but in a good way. Dave's car was nice too, and like the 1.9s, you gotta know how to rev the engine. So anyway, we retuend back to Todd's house, had breakfast rather quickly, and then set out. Todd took us through a bunch of decent backroads.
Somehow, I spoke up first, and we started working on my brakes first, while Rachel and Dave (and Todd, not pictured) waited outside for us to finish.First, you spray the new pads with Brake Dust Quiet (sans the hairy arm :-), to keep them from squealing when they're in place. Removing the pads is a fairly simple process, and if you do things right, the replacement goes quickly. While Shawn was busy, I took a look at his new metal pedals. Impressive.
Then came the Spark Plugs. First bit you gotta remove is the engine cover. It's easier if you don't have a strut brace in stalled, but it's not impossible - just slide it out from underneath. At 30,000 plus miles, the old plugs didn't look tood bad, as compared to the new ones, but it couldn't hurt to swap in new ones. Here's a shot of where the plugs go. Interesting, isn't it? The way our cars are made, each cylinder has a seperate coil, instead of one coupled with a distributor. Shawn was using a little magnetic bowl that you could put anywhere to hold the screws and such. Interesting sidenote is that our cars have their own website in the engine comparatment (check yours out, if you want). Here's the coil assembly that the spark plug is attached to. Pretty straightforward stuff. I like this picture, because it shows the aerodynamic lines that our cars have, even though this was caused from a mix of rain and road dirt.
So, I start backing out to test drive the brakes, and they went straight to the floor! I paniced, but pulled the emergency brake, and I stopped soon enough. I forgot to pump up the brakes up. No matter. Afterward, I took my car out for a spin, and did some stop and start stuff to help seat the new pads. They were a little slow, but I knew they were new, and needed to break in. By the end of the road test, they were starating to feel good.
When I got back, Rachel had brought Emmy in to the garage, and we got started on hers. Shawn has special jackstands, which are setup with little plastic inserts so that they exactly fit the Z3 jackpoints. Pretty cool, but little too pricey for me and my occasional Z3 work. After we did the pads and plugs, Rachel had also wanted to install some new Chrome-covered windshield washer nozzless. The way to do that is to remove the hood's liner, which is partially a heat absorber and sound deadener. Shawn thought it best to put a blanket down so that the screw thingies wouldn't fall into the engine compartment if we dropped them. Good plan, as several fell from our hands. They were a little hard to remove, too. It was getting late, and being that it was still March, it was getting cold outside (remember the snow at Todd's?). Anyways, with the liner off, we saw that the washer's tubes were held in by tape. After removing and reinstalling the new washer nozzles (which requires a special tool or some clever maneuvering with needlenose pliers, it was time to move on to checking out Rachel's car computer. Shawn barely fit into her passenger seat. With the beads and sheepskin seat covers in place, the room inside Rachel's cabin is reduced greatly (even with them removed, but that's another story). Eventually, he plugged his laptop into her car and checked everything out.
A while previous, Melissa had returned, and had prepared a great BBQ steak meal for us, which we happily ate. We then retired to their couch, and checked out Shawn's incredible home theater setup. I remember seeing a demo of the THX system on laserdisc, and afterwards, we got to talking about the movie Gumball Rally, which is a recreation of the infamous cross-country race that Brock Yates and others participated in. It's the closest depiction of the actual race, that was remade as several other films - Cannonball, Cannonball Run, Cannonball Run 2, and so on (there were others, even more horrid). Still, the Gumball Rally has one of the best lines ever that relates the first rule of Italian Driving - "What's-a behind-a me is-a NOT IMPORTANT!"
By the time it was over, it was late, and we were beat. We bid our farewellss, and thanked Shawn for having us over, and thanked Melissa for putting up with us. We took the Interstates back to Todd's place, and crashed for the night.
In the morning, I had to return home because I had stuff to finish up before Monday. We drove to breakfast at a local restaurant, and we parted ways there. Todd went home, after we thanked him profusely for allowing us to stay over. Rachel and Dave had time, so they tooled around Connecticut and found some fun roads on the way back. I, on the other hand, hopped on the Interstate for the quick way.
Great time and we definitely have to thank Shawn and Melissa, and Todd for a very cool weekend.