De-Googling My Phone

Hey, I’ve been very quiet about all things related to The Art of Diesel for quite a while, but I’ve taken a lot of video footage of projects I’ve been working on. The struggle is always finding time to edit many GB of videos, stringing them together into useful how-to segments. Since I took on a new job, moved to the Cincinnati area, and wound up chairing the Libertarian Party of Warren County, time is tight and I’m spread too thin just like I’ve always been. I enjoy sharing my projects, though, and will post what I can when I can.

I’ve done a few projects on my Mercedes diesels and I have footage to edit, but today I’m sharing a video about an important topic for anybody who cares about liberty: Digital Privacy. If you are using a stock Android or iPhone you need to understand that you are being tracked in every way imaginable. Tracking these days includes contact tracing, location, behaviors, recording words, and who knows what else? The problem is that iOS is 100% proprietary and Android has a lot of proprietary software in it where you can’t really know what all is being collected. While Android and Apple operating systems do more and more to help with privacy by giving you control over app permissions, there is NOTHING you can do to truly control what the operating system might be doing in the background. Rob Braxman really covers this topic well and you should subscribe to his Odysee channel for a better understanding of the Digital Panopticon we are living in.

Shifting to LineageOS won’t give you perfect digital privacy, as your phone company will still track you (it’s impossible for them to provide service without doing this to some degree), and you could certainly unwisely install apps that sacrifice your privacy. An important workaround is to stick to open source software available on F-Droid (paying attention, of course, to their own ratings on the software). I believe that going to LineageOS and making sure NOT to install Google Apps is a good 85% solution, because at least you remove yourself from Google’s system of collection.

I’ve been de-Googling phones for a number of years, using operating systems including CopperheadOS, GrapheneOS, LineageOS, and /e/. The de-Googled operating system ROMs available to put onto various Android phones continues to grow. I know people who are now using CalxOS, which runs only on certain Google Pixel phones and appears to be based on CopperheadOS and GrapheneOS.

I recently used /e/ because it included microG, which provides a framework allowing certain apps to function without Google’s proprietary software and services. What I don’t like about /e/ is that the interface behaves like an iPhone, while I prefer an Android interface. Now there is a version of LineageOS that incorporates microG called LineageOS for microG. That’s what I’ve installed on several OnePlus 6Ts recently. I recorded the process when I flashed my own phone and I’m sharing it with you here:

Some useful links that are mentioned in the video follow:

LineageOS for microG
https://lineage.microg.org/

LineageOS
https://lineageos.org/

Fastboot and ADB Download
https://developer.android.com/studio/releases/platform-tools

Setting up phone permissions using the 51-Android Rules file
https://snowdream.github.io/51-android/

MSM Downloader tools
https://forum.xda-developers.com/t/tool-6t-msmdownloadtool-v4-0-59-oos-v9-0-13.3867448/

The cracked international version of the MSM downloader tools
https://forum.xda-developers.com/t/t-mobile-6t-to-international-conversion-without-unlocked-bootloader-sim-unlock.3888307/

XDA updates page
https://forum.xda-developers.com/t/oneplus-6t-global-rom-ota-oxygen-os-repo-of-oxygen-os-builds.3865396/

I hope this is helpful and I hope to spend some more time editing videos and posting some of my diesel and other projects in the near future. Please let me know what you think!

ML320 Oil Level Sensor Replacement

Warning

We are thoroughly enjoying the second OM642-powered machine we’ve owned, my wife’s 2008 ML320 CDI. Like my 2007 R320 CDI, this one had the notorious oil cooler leak and received efficiency & longevity modifications while things were apart and the EcoDiesel tune pushed it up to 440 ft-lbs of torque. It’s quite quick and drives beautifully, of course!

My wife texted me the snapshot shown here of the warning that was popping up on the vehicle’s display, because it was never showing when she got home. I was checking the oil, though, and knew it was just fine.

I decided I needed to replace the oil level sensor in the oil pan, which was Hella part number 008891011. The part is available for less than $25, but how hard is it to replace? It’s not that bad a job!

How-To

I realized that the oil pan actually appears to be designed to be removed without pulling the engine in this vehicle, so I did the job myself and created the video below to share. (Please note that I no longer use YouTube to post my content, please check out my channel at Odysee!)

Conclusion

I fixed it so that we have no leaks and the warning no longer appears. This machine continues to be awesome and I’m glad my wife is driving something that is heavy, safe, and powerful, even though it is also quite efficient with fuel economy in the mid- to upper-20s.

I hope this is helpful!

Free-Flowing Intake for 2009-2013 Corolla

WARNING! Unless you have some higher temperature materials than the HT PLA I used, don’t do this! When summertime hit I found out that the cylindrical section of the intake I printed was getting soft and dropped the air filter, so my engine was sucking unfiltered air in, which isn’t something you want to be doing for long. I’m keeping the article in there only because somebody using higher-temp materials might still get something useful out of it.

I’m likely to weld up a steel version of this, eventually, but haven’t had a chance.

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Yeah, I know it’s not a diesel, but I have three Corollas as vehicles that are reasonably efficient and require very little maintenance.

In this video I show how to build a simple intake modification for my 2009 Corolla. The MAF sensor piece was 3D printed using ProtoPasta High-Temp PLA. Ensure any material you use can stand up to under-hood temperatures!

I’ve shared the (updated) files and more details here, including where I got the other parts: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:4075834

I think there’s a small increase in performance. The sound is much growlier / sportier than before. When I fill it up a couple times I’ll report back on fuel economy.

Don’t Fear the Mercedes: Diesel Return Lines How-To

On my major effort to fix the imfamous OM642 oil cooler leak, I managed to mess up the diesel return line. Now that I know how the connectors work on these, I figured I should make a quick video to share what I’ve learned. Enjoy!

Funny: Elon Musk’s Starman Seems Familiar

Audi Update

Before I get to Elon Musk and SpaceX, let me give a quick update. It’s been a long journey, but my son’s Audi is almost back on the road. It’s together and it doesn’t leak, but it still has a performance issue. After whipping out my VAG-COM and doing some data logging, the things I can measure look OK. It seems to provide really good performance at random, but especially when little demand has been made of it for a few seconds. I think the fuel filter is plugged. “Cheap” Audis? Don’t let anybody tell you that an old Audi is cheap! That said, the car is shaping up to be a lot of fun to drive, once everything is sorted out, and we might actually buy another for my daughter. AWD is a really nice thing to have and these cars are actually quite cheap to insure.

My Space Background

I have an MS is in Astronautical Engineering and I’m a genuine space guy at heart. I’m also big on entrepreneurial ventures, so I have to say that the SpaceX Heavy launch recently was really cool, including that they brought two of the boosters back for a soft touch down side-by-side.

Not a Huge Fan, But…

I’m not a huge Elon Musk fanboy. All the heavy subsidies on Teslas make him look more like a crony than a real entrepreneur. However, I must admit that he’s still doing some cool things.

The Heavy Metal Connection

The Falcon Heavy Launch featured an unusual payload. SpaceX put a Tesla Roadster in orbit. Here’s a live feed of it.

An obvious reference to science fiction (or at least sci fi parody) is found in the “Don’t Panic!” displayed on the dash. However, a more obscure reference is found in the whole concept of an astronaut driving a convertible in Earth’s orbit. The opening sequence of Heavy Metal, a rather …um… adult, R-rated rock-n-roll sci fi cartoon from 1981 featured a similar theme in their opening sequence. Have you ever imagined reentry in an early model Corvette convertible?! Set to some fun rock ‘n roll music, this opening sequence had my friends and I rolling around laughing back in he 80s.

I thought I’d just share this because it’s fun!

May God bless you and keep you running on all cylinders!

 

Winter Car Problems and Audi Work

Car Problems

Hey! I’ve been slow about providing blog updates, but I’ve run into a number of problems with my fleet. It seems that everything always seems to go wrong at the same time! I know that this happens to many people and it’s part of life in a fallen world. When this happens, do what I’m learning to: Keep your chin up, thank God for the blessings you have, and press onwards! Here’s what came up in the last two weeks:

  • My son’s 2002 Audi A4 Quattro started dumping about a quart of oil daily, so we dug in and found out that the head gasket was leaking. Compression is still good, but the head needed to come off! This “cheap” Audi isn’t so cheap, anymore!
  • The old 2001 MkIV Jetta TDI is having glow plug circuit issues and we can pretty much forget about driving it in subzero weather until I can troubleshoot that system.
  • My son was driving my 2005 B5.5 Passat TDI and wound up getting it jump-started one subzero morning. I had to replace that battery. I found out the old one had been in there since 2012 (before I owned it)!
  • Now I have a new oil slick on the floor where I’ve been parking the 2007 Mercedes R320 CDI. It’s just left of the centerline and toward the rear of the engine…so I need to dig into it and replace the dreaded OM642 oil cooler seal!

Audi Quattro Head Gasket

I’ve pulled the head from the engine. The photos that follow simply document the process I’ve made this weekend. Today I’ll clean up the valve cover and intake manifold to paint them up and make them pretty. When my Amazon Prime valve spring compressor tool shows up in two days I’ll replace the valve stem seals.

Audi 1.8T Without Head

I’ve removed the head from the 1.8T, and you can see the top of the engine block. I’ve checked the deck surface with a good straightedge and a flashlight. No light was leaking under the straightedge anywhere. The deck looks perfect! I’ll just clean it up good before I get it all back together.

Audi Quattro Head

Check out the 1.8T’s head. These engines are very common. They are found in a lot of VW and Audi vehicles. They are surprisingly exotic, with five valves per cylinder! That explains how it spools so smoothly. That’s also why there’s so much horsepower potential in these little engines.

Audi 1.8T Cams

I pulled the camshafts to check on things and replace the valve stem seals. Might as well, while I have the head off. The tensioner is in the background in this photo. Be sure you buy a tensioner compressor before attempting this job! It would be very difficult without this tool.

Marked Cam Bearing Journals

The Audi 1.8T’s bearing journals are lined up here. Note that they’ve all been marked so that they go back into their proper locations.

Audi 1.8T Head Without Camse

Here is the head with the cams removed. The valves are buried deep down in this head, so I’ve ordered a better valve spring compressor tool.

 

I cleaned up the mating surface on the head, checking it with a straightedge and a flashlight. When I do this I put the flashlight behind the straightedge and look to see if light leaks through anywhere, indicating warpage. I didn’t find any on the head or the engine block’s deck. So, I’m not sure why the head gasket started leaking oil. I suppose being 15 years old and having 180,000+ miles might have something to do with it. Perhaps the head bolts should have been retorqued at some point. I’m counting our blessings that we don’t have to go to the machine shop on this effort!

At this point, you’ve probably noticed that everything in this engine has a brownish color from varnish that has built up. I’m not going to go to crazy cleaning a high mileage engine on a “cheap” car, but it’s apparent that previous owners weren’t using synthetics and/or didn’t change the oil often enough. Well, thankfully the compression is still very good, so we’ll just keep some good synthetic oil in there (we use LiquiMoly in our VW and Audi vehicles) and it will probably clean itself up over time.

I’ll provide more updates as I work through this effort and the others that are on my TO DO list.

May God bless you and keep you running on all cylinders!

Happy New Year! Free E-book!

The Art of Diesel Cover

Click on this image to get The Art of Diesel on Amazon! Available in e-book or paperback.

Happy New Year 2018!

To celebrate the new year, we are doing a promotion for our diesel swap book The Art of Diesel: Building an Efficient Family HaulerGo to Amazon now and get the e-book for free this Monday and Tuesday, the 1st and 2nd of January 2018. The paperback version is also available at its normal price.

Why a Diesel Conversion?

This effort stemmed from my dissatisfaction with what the market was offering for large vehicles with reasonable efficiency. I chose to build an efficient vehicle of my own. I created a diesel-powered Suburban with an EMP-proof drivetrain that delivered 26 mpg on the highway. The vehicle retained four wheel drive and air conditioning, making it a practical family hauler.

Why Write a Book?

I gleaned a lot of information from web forums. Finding useful information this way is slow and painful, though. I wished for a comprehensive book on a diesel conversion, but couldn’t find any. So, I wrote one to help others with their conversion projects. People universally underestimate the complexity of diesel conversion. So, my book examines each subsystem that needs to be modified and discusses the decisions I made. This book helps anybody considering a diesel conversion by covering the full scope of the undertaking.

What Has Happened Since Then?

I no longer own the Suburban. A rod bearing failed at a time when I was buried in my day job. I sold it to somebody who is fixing it, and I hope to report back on it later. In my blog at The Art of Diesel, I continue to work on my fleet of diesels and I will eventually get back to other conversions.

Order your free e-book today!

May God bless you and keep you running on all cylinders!

Son’s Audi Quattro: Immobilizer Workaround

A number of months back I found a 2002 Audi Quattro Avant (wagon) for my son with the 1.8T engine. Yeah, it’s the only non-diesel vehicle that has my name on the title, but at least it has a turbo. It’s a 20-valve engine, too, and it spools up sweetly!

Audi Quattro Avant (Wagon)

This is the Audi Quattro Avant 1.8T I bought for my son to drive.

Audi Quattro Avant - FrontThis was to be an inexpensive vehicle to keep him moving between locations while he lives in Indianapolis, takes classes, and works with employers while going through Apprentice University. He’s interested in Information Security, a field where one could get a degree, but frankly the employers care a lot more about experience and certifications, so he’s taking the direct route.

Regardless, this was to be an inexpensive car, and we immediately put about $900 into some things it needed, like a timing belt, some repairs, and an updated head unit with Bluetooth. (Yes, I’ve also recently replaced the clutch, which was another additional expense.) In the spirit of having a cheap car, I realized that we only had one key, so I bought some cheap-o keys with remotes online through Amazon. The remotes weren’t compatible, as it turned out, even though I tried programming the car to listen to them with my Ross-Tech VCDS. I also found out that the immobilizer system is a real PITA and I can’t teach the car to listen to new RFIDs with the VCDS. Drat! I found a local guy who would cut the key blanks to fit, so at least I could get physically-compatible keys without spending a lot of money.

Key Fob, Holder, and RFID Capsule

From left to right: The key fob, the RFID capsule, and the 3D printed holder I made.

Holder with RFID Inserted

After test-fitting everything, I put the RFID capsule into the holder.

I came up with the idea that I could pull the RFID capsule out of the one key we have and hang it on the ignition switch. So, I created a model in FreeCAD, 3D printed it, slipped the RFID capsule into it, and put it in place with a small dab of epoxy. With this in place, I can now start the car with the additional key blades that I had cut. With VWs and Audis, you can always lock/unlock the doors from the driver’s door key lock, so these cut blades give us everything we need for a backup, in case the one key gets lost. Believe it or not, I actually found a key model on Thingiverse that I modified for our key code and I’ve actually unlocked and started the car with a 3D printed key!

The 3D model for the RFID holder is available on Thingiverse, if you’d like to print your own!

RFID Holder Installed

Here the RFID holder has been installed on the ignition switch.

RFID Holder With Key Inserted

3D Printed Key

I 3D printed this key and used it to start the engine!

May the Lord bless you and keep you running on all cylinders!

 

Headlamp Demonstration

Over the weekend, while working on my son’s Audi, we took a short break to compare the headlight we are selling in the store with the other headlights we’ve used when working on cars. In a workshop situation or underneath a car, it is best if the lighting covers a broad area. Some of the lights we’ve used create a tiny, bright “hot” spot, which would be fine when hiking, running, or bicycling in the dark. In a workshop or breakdown situation, when you are working on a car you are looking at something that is quite close to your head, rather than a number of yards away. So, it is better to have a broader, more “volumetric” beam of light. The light we are selling in our store is ideal for these tasks. Check out the demonstration here:

If you’d like to get one of these for yourself or one of your loved ones (Christmas is coming!), check them out in our store. The price is good and shipping is free!

https://artofdiesel.myshopify.com/products/headlight

Whether you are interested in these products or not:

May the Lord bless you and keep you running on all cylinders!

Sump Pump Circuit

I was unhappy with my Basement Watchdog backup sump’s controller, so I built my own simple system to control the pump and keep the battery charged. I took some video of the effort and posted it on YouTube yesterday.

Yes, I know I need a better camera, lighting conditions, and the sound quality leaves much to be desired, but I still thought I should share what I made with you.

May the Lord bless you and keep you running on all cylinders!