Category archive: Life

Life Happens and Other Topics.

And We’re Back.

Hello, everyone! I’m a little further behind, but as Bryan mentioned previously, lots of things going on in the last few months. My wife and I welcomed a wonderful little baby boy at the end of August. What has followed since has been a blur of adjustments, learning, and no time, but a lot of fun. Little guy already loves rolling around in the GTI with dad. I think. He falls asleep immediately after the car starts moving, so I’m assuming he likes it a lot. And because I can’t possibly be busy enough, I’m starting graduate school in January. But enough about me, let’s talk about some of the happenings in the car world and otherwise (and my opinions on them) since my last foray into writing.

Absolutely, definitely, totally NOT Top Gear. We swear.


(Courtesy of Autoweek)

Episode two of The Grand Tour went live last night on Amazon, and if you were, like me, left with a bad taste in your mouth after the revamped Top Gear flopped harder than every early 2000’s Chrysler product, you’re in luck. What Jeremy, Richard, and James did with GT is, well, take everything people loved about Top Gear…and call it The Grand Tour. And that’s not a bad thing. The trio seems refreshed after the debacle with the BBC, and the Chemistry from 20+ seasons together on Top Gear is ever present. Some may bemoan the cost of Amazon Prime, $99 for a year subscription in the US, but most that do are already paying $95.88 a year for Netflix or HULU ($7.99 times 12, math is great). Plus, the free 2 day shipping that Prime allows you for things bought through Amazon quickly pays the fee by itself. So subscribe, watch, enjoy.

Mazda makes beautiful vehicles, why won’t they make them faster?


(Courtesy of Autoblog)

The LA Auto show happened. Unless you’re super stoked about the rice-tastic Civic Type-R’s still ricey and much slower little brother, the Si, the star of the show was the new Mazda CX-5. In the dull and boring world of Crossover SUV’s, the CX-5 looks stunning, and the great styling cues in the little CUV extend to the rest of the Mazda lineup. Only issue? Everything is slow. Even the fantastic new MX-5, which is simply a blast to drive, I’d recommend a test drive to anyone having a shit day/week cause the smiles per mile rate is quite high, still underwhelms in raw power. Where’s Mazdaspeed when you need it? What happened to the rumors of the new Mazdaspeed3 with 300 turbocharged horsepower and all-wheel drive? When will the rotary return in all of its triangle shaped glory (EPA regulations be damned)? Hopefully soon, but for now, keep killing it on the design front Mazda.

All jokes aside…

Civic Si Prototype

(Courtesy of Autoweek)

The new Honda Civic Si doesn’t look nearly as bad as the Type-R, and will probably be another sub-$30k performance bargain which is nothing to complain about. The sheer number of sporty cars that can be had for less than $30,000 is remarkable. And they come in all shapes, sizes, and configurations, from RWD coupes to FWD hatchbacks to AWD sedans. It’s a good time to be an enthusiast.

Post-baby, the MK7 GTI is still great.


I’ve got an article in the works on my current vehicle, a 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI, to give everyone a break from my friend Bryan’s constant mullet flaunting. It may not have a ‘Murican Five-point-oh liter vee-eight under the hood, or run a 12 second quarter mile (yet), but in terms of performance bang for the buck and everyday versatility, I’m not sure there’s a better new car on the market. And unlike the crowd clearing Mustang, I can comfortably fit a car seat in the GTI. (I know Bryan claims he can, but I’ve never seen it happen.) More on this subject at a later time.

More to come.

Now that things have normalized, expect more content with more regularity from Machscribe. That’s the plan, anyway. Life with a three month old can be a little hectic at times, but I will definitely be setting some time each week aside to write. It’s good for the soul. Also, wonderful readers, on behalf of myself and Bryan, hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!


Project Ruby: Update 2


Cars are dirty machines.

The car, in my opinion, is one of humanity’s most brilliant inventions, but alas, they come with headaches. Like all of our machines, cars break down. They cost us money, which naturally points us toward the direction of which company makes the cars requiring the least amount of work, but that doesn’t always pan out. People with more exotic tastes buy extraordinarily unreliable cars like used Range Rovers or old Volkswagen/Audis. Every time I see this, I shed a tear for their wallet as well as their soul, but for the rest of the buying public, we tend to stick to cars with established pedigrees.

Think about your mother’s Honda Odyssey, or your dad’s Toyota Camry. Every once in a while, you’ll see a Nissan Sentra—you know, the boring and lifeless appliance cars.

They run like a well-maintained box fan from Sears, or a freshly unraveled Hoover vacuum cleaner primed to rid the carpet of lint and pet dander. For as much as we ask of our automobiles on a day to day basis (roughly 29.2 miles daily, or 10,658 miles yearly per the AAA), it would make perfect sense to just mosey along and provide them with merely the “recommended maintenance” that every manufacturer clearly spells out. Simple and easy, though the concept becomes warped in the illogical minds of enthusiasts.

We’re weird with this. We buy more “interesting” cars that aren’t as notorious for long-term reliability, but on top of that, we tend to take a perfectly good car and make it more unreliable by installing parts that it wasn’t designed for.

I’ll call this the “Money Pit Cycle,” which typically follows a 4-stage process:

[1] Enthusiast has a car, usually one with a higher price and substantially reduced practically versus the average car—mostly because said enthusiast won’t settle for “average”.

[2] Enthusiast loves the car for perhaps a few weeks, then the excitement wanes. Slowly, the enthusiast starts to find imperfections and a total lack of personal identification with said car. It becomes “boring” and average. Suddenly, the 420hp V8 isn’t powerful enough. The clutch sticks to the floor and shifting is labored. The enthusiast is triggered by these revelations.

It’s the end of the world, and potentially the end of the love affair, but alas, there is hope.

[3] Enthusiast does research to tackle a list of improvement goals for the car. Eventually, this list grows to consume thousands of dollars. The plan is to take apart a perfectly good automobile no logical reason. Together, the enthusiast teams up with friends and they tackle hours worth of arduous labor replacing parts that otherwise functioned exactly as intended but not as well as they could have.

[4] Enthusiast is initially satisfied by the results, but soon starts to realize that more parts are necessary to achieve the desired goal. The new long tube headers have a nasty exhaust leak at the mounting flanges. The Centerforce Dual Friction clutch hates traffic and has the modulation range of a paperclip. The car runs stronger, but not quite as strong as hoped.

The cycle restarts. . .

The Impractical Choice:

In the driveway awaits this 2013 Ford Mustang GT.


It’s about as practical on a day to day basis as using a spoon to slice a wedding cake, but it’s quite a bit faster now. Yes, as you can see here, my adorable baby girl strapped into a Graco carseat (with the base too!) will actually fit, and you can still fit an adult in the passenger seat up front.



On occasion, the Coyote can muster out 23mpg, but you can’t go over 80mph and expect that. Meanwhile, it unfortunately exceeded 50,000 miles on the odometer. I did buy it to drive it, I suppose.


As detailed in the Project Ruby: Update 1 article, the fiasco that encompassed the two months of ownership was merely the start of what is working out to be a lovely journey. So far, I’ve set a few personal milestones with this thing. I described my quest for a 12 second quarter mile pass in detail in the Update 1, but the high temperatures and the finicky clutch seriously ailed my mid-summer attempts at glory.

It wasn’t until September 30th that the car finally broke the 13 second barrier with a best of 12.876@110.85mph. Looking at the data, it was about a stout as your typical stock 2011+ 5.0 Mustang. It was good, but not good enough. Triggered, I entered Stage 1 of the Money Pit Cycle.

The Absence of Logic:

I ordered the following parts:

[1] Centerforce Dual Friction clutch, which was equipped with counterweights to ensure that the car would actually shift at high RPM (thanks, Ford).


[2] Barton Racing shifter bracket, which was designed to essentially get rid of the junk remote-mount shift setup (thanks, Ford) and turn it into a “top loader” like it should’ve been from jump street.


[3] BBK x-pipe, so I could connect the BBK long tube headers to the stock exhaust.

The installation? Well, it was a royal pain in the ass. Luckily for me, I had a team of friends and fellow enthusiasts to help.

Meet Sam, an extremely knowledgeable, honest, and straightforward guy. He loves cars, specifically Fords, and he was apparently born with a gene that turned him into a car addict like the rest of us. Working on cars is literally his job, though this experience usually makes even the most daunting tasks a cake walk. Yeah, he’s that dude that can swap an engine in the time it takes for you to cut the grass.


On October 9th,  Sam and his neighbor, Rocky, invited me over to use their facilities. It included an electric lift, which turned out to be a vital part of the major surgery considering that we’d have to take half of the damn car apart.


Once again, my Ford Mustang found itself suspended on an automobile lift. (Hutch is pictured here, too).


In short, these parts didn’t exactly go on in an easy fashion. The clutch installation required the removal of the driveshaft, shift linkage, and the entire transmission. The Barton Racing shifter bracket was installed on the reassembly journey. The headers, bless our souls, were the worst part of the entire endeavor. Due to the space constraints under the car and under the hood, we were forced to remove the steering shaft, both engine mounts, and of course the old headers, all of which took about three hours to do (not including stops to McDonalds).

Oh, and we forgot the tools at the Ford Dealership where Sam works, so instead of calling off the surgery, another buddy, Hutch (in the foreground), brought a set of basic tools from the trunk of his car. Derek (in the background munching on Taco Hell), has direct experience in the nightmare that is installing anything worthwhile on a Coyote, as he has a 2012 Mustang GT 5.0 that has run a best of 10.878@127mph. Together, this team of three formed quite the comedic overlay.


We joked with each other, cursed at each other, and bullshat through scrapped knuckles, bruised knees, stuck bolts, and nonsensical designs. Sometimes, no matter how immature it is to an observer, this behavior is necessary to stay the course.

Near the end, we reached a moment of desperation. We had forgotten to install the top two bell housing bolts, and in a notion of defeat, we surmised that it would require unbolting pretty much everything in order to tip the engine back and free up the room—that is, unless we found someone with a wrist small enough to fit.

I consider this to be my niche, and I stepped up and did what any desperate enthusiast would do:

Yes, I climbed atop the engine and hand-threaded the bolts, torquing them down with a wrench all the while hoping that making love to the engine would somehow smooth over the awkwardness.


In all, it wasn’t until about 8pm when we first fired the car up—only to discover a huge manifold flange exhaust leak—that the inevitable curse of modification is unavoidable.

We tried fixing it with mixed results. Both headers have a plaguing leak to this very day, though that didn’t seem to affect the car’s performance at first. I drove car all week to break in the clutch and drag raced the following Saturday to quell my anxiety for results.

I was disappointed, seeing that the car could do no better than a “measly” 12.7@113.8mph. It was an improvement, but not exactly what I expected.

I made excuses and loathed in self-pity for two weeks before I eventually sucked it up and decided to get rid of the ECU’s unknown and poorly performing tune. I reached into my wallet, grabbed $550 and contacted Lund Racing for their newest nGauge tuner and datalogger.


Before today, I had been a staunch critic of mail order tunes, but the paranoia faded when I hook up the device to the OBDII port, flashed the tune, verified that it wasn’t going to destroy the car (via datalogging), and drove it.

Except that it didn’t feel any faster. Shit.

I returned to loathing in self-pity, at least until I blew the doors off of a 2010 Camaro SS on the way to work. Maybe I was wrong, and I would prove just that when I rolled up to the staging line at Edgewater Raceway on November 12th. Honestly, I didn’t expect the car to hook up with a damn in the 58 degree weather, but I hoped to see a trap speed higher than 115mph.

The first pass was a bit of a botched launch, but I still broke my personal record:


Yes, that’s a solid 12.646 at nearly 116mph. I was overjoyed, and as I bathed in excitement and relief, I decided to take the car up for another pass to prove repeatability.

That time, it launched like it was strapped to a catapult, breaking through a 1.878 60 foot time (yes, on the 235 width Sumitomo all season tires at 35psi) to run a 12.260@116.5mph.



Victory. Absolute victory.

Not only did the car perform this admirably with no extra preparation (I have a rule of running my cars exactly as they are setup for daily driving), no weight reduction, and no special fuel, but it did so in such a fashion that clearly put the Mustang in a new league of automobile.

I read a recent article of Car and Driver, and discovered that my car, a lowly Ford Mustang GT, is apparently just as fast as a brand new 2016 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport. Yes, I no longer have to fear a factory trim Corvette. My car was now just as fast, if not faster, than the AMG Mercedes-Benz models that I used to fantisize about in high school during the early to mid 2000s.

Let that sink in.

The stars aligned and I got the last bit of fair weather just before the racing season buttoned up to a close. The headers still leak, and the car is even more brashly unrefined than it was to begin with, but hell, at least we had some fun together this year. Now with the freezing temperatures settling in and snow around the corner, I’ll put Ruby back into the garage where she belongs and trickle back into Stage 1 of the Money Pit Cycle again.

Even now, I find myself searching for ways to make it even better, but this time I’ll focus on suspension and brakes.

After all, taking off perfectly good parts and replacing them is one of the most absurdly agonizing/gratifying things to do.


Life Hits: Where Have I Been?

Well, if you’re a regular viewer, we’d like to apologize.

It’s been a while since you’ve heard anything from us, but we’re ready again. A lot has happened since our last post on 8/3/16, where I delved into what I hoped to be Infiniti’s return to gloriousness. I have to say, the passion for automobiles is still there, but again. . . life has its challenges.

For me, it was yet another HUGE transition. Let me break this down for you:


The New Job (8/15/16)


It started with a job offer, one that paid me nearly $15,000/year more than my last job doing pretty much the exact same thing (Mechanical Engineering in Automotive Manufacturing). Sure, the new place was roughly an hour away from my house, but the money and opportunity alone made the the commute worthwhile on paper. I gave my previous employer three weeks worth of notice out of respect for the people I worked with, but the terribly odd part about that was the moment I submitted my resignation letter, I got a hard lesson of how cut throat the business world is.

They counter offered me $9,500 more than what I was already making, which was unusual considering that they could’ve paid me this salary to begin with and I likely would’ve never left, but I suppose that divine intervention had a different outlook. I was given one weekend to “think it over,” during which I proved through various hypothetical situations that the new job offer was still better. My old job was a dead end. The lower management was locked in, and though most of them were not qualified for their positions, it was clear that there wouldn’t be any room to move up within the next two decades. There were “engineers” with no engineering knowledge, education, or basic engineering skills. There were people in charge on the production floor that walked in the door as bottom scale operators just months prior. The Japanese upper management was hell bent on expansion with little to no increase in salary, and speaking of salary, the entire pay scale ladder was screwed up. There were people on the production floor that had been with the company less time, with far less responsibility, no higher education, and obviously lower capabilities making either an equivalent or superior salary.

The place was a shit show.

It was time to move on, and they rushed the ordeal. One week into my final three, I came to work on a Friday morning and was promptly notified that it was my last day. I drove my Mustang home and vented my anger silently, taking in the nice summer weather and sulking in sadness as I rubbed my wife’s pregnant belly. Our daughter was due to be induced in just weeks. My wife was on strict bedrest, and I was now without a job—at least until I called my job recruiter and explained the situation to her. By the end of the evening, she had my new job ready to start the following Wednesday.

The hour drive was rough, and in the Mustang averaging a measly 22.5MPG, the 112 mile daily round trip consumed 1/3 of the 16 gallon gas tank. I needed a daily driver, and though I wanted to wait, I took yet another risk and bought one of the best cheap cars that I could think of:

A 2003 Toyota Corolla LE.


As much as this car represents the antithesis of what I normally believe a car should be, I grew to love it instantly because of what it offers: the ability to simply hop into the car and drive peacefully to your destination. I’ll write more about it in a Driver Mod section later, but I’ll tell you that the gas mileage and operating costs are substantially lower on a daily commute.

Kudos to gas mileage—even though the Service Engine Soon light illuminated days after purchase for a stupid evap control fault and has been on ever since. It’s also a swell family road trip car. Oh, and it’s much easier to buy a daily driver when you finally earn a reasonable salary. Thanks, new job.

Ryan’s A Father! (8/29/16)

Though I’m sure Ryan will have much more detail to add, I will never forget being at work the morning he informed me that his wife had gone into labor. A few hours later, he sent me a photo of their little boy, Isaac. Everyone’s life had changed from that point, and all for the better.


I’m A Father! (8/31/16)

This was the greatest day of my life. We woke up early and drove to the hospital, knowing that Ashley would be induced within the next few hours. We thought it would be a quick ordeal, but it wasn’t. Nearly twelve hours later, our daughter, Lila Faith Williams, was born at 6:36PM. My vision was blurry for the first five minutes of her life because I was crying so hard. She was tiny, but strong, willful, direct, and exactly as I had imagined.


The very first night in the hospital, she kept us awake until 4AM because she wouldn’t stop crying. Parenting 101 began on 8/31/16 at 6:36:01PM, the very first second that she was in our hands. I had never taken a class on fatherhood, and my exposure to babies up until that point had been extremely limited, but hell, we figured it out together.

My friend and fellow Machscriber, Ryan, has largely done the same with his wife and son.


The Adjustment Period (9/1/16 to Present)


I soon realized that it cost $2,200 to change jobs in the USA when you have a small family. That, ladies and gentlemen, was the cost of COBRA health coverage after I discovered that the HR department of my previous job tried to charge me twice for health insurance. Ashley developed a uterus infection just days after we took Lila home, which required an ambulance ride back to the hospital where she was admitted for another two days. She is clearly the strongest person that I have ever seen. It was rough, but we made it.

The new job has its pros and cons, but it’s a better place than the old one. My biggest concern is that the hours aren’t necessarily steady, and dealing with the constant frustration of bureaucracies has been a major stressor. It pays the bills, I suppose.

Oh, and I finally ran a 12-second quarter mile, all before teaming up with some fellow enthusiasts to install a slew of modifications to the Mustang the following week. Going to the track to see and feel the difference is what drives me to continue on with this.


I see people everyday on YouTube, Facebook, and other media sources working towards and working in their lifelong dreams. Chris Harris, my hero, has the world’s greatest job. There is a dude in SoCal named Spencer that has literally achieved everything that I’ve ever wanted to do with automobiles. He makes a load of money marketing, selling, a photographing automobiles of exotic origin.

This is why Machscribe is here. I hastily put it together in 2014 because I dreamed of making a reality out of my passion with cars, gadgetry, fiction, and news. My friend, Ryan, has similar ambitions, but we’ve long ago realized that it’s much harder than it looks.

One day, we’ll have podcasts, we’ll have live coverage of automotive events, shows, and news. We’ll test new and old automobiles objectively and evaluate them to the best of our abilities, connect with our fans, viewers, and readers, listen and grow with the guidance of their feedback, and push forward from there.

Sorry that we can be a bit spastic at times, but hey, when life hits, you have to regroup and hit it back.