Art of Diesel Store Open & Working on Audi

Sorry, all, as things have been awfully quiet around here. I’m slowly working things behind the scenes at Ethical Developer Group, but that site will probably be quiet for a little while, too. My biggest project at the moment is setting up an eCommerce store: The Art of Diesel Shop!


Here’s the transmission, that I finally removed from my son’s Audi Quattro tonight.

There are only a few products in there, right now, but we are working to find the very best products at the very best values in the realm of automotive tools, accessories, and emergency equipment. We aren’t selling air fresheners or stick figure family stickers. Everything in this store will be functional and helpful in real-life use. Because we are being selective, the selection is currently small, but it will be growing. Be sure to go there and check it out!

Meanwhile, I know this car isn’t a diesel, but I’m working with my son on his 2002 Audi A4 Avant Quattro. It has 190,000 miles on it and the clutch started slipping. He’s spending his time in Indianapolis with Apprentice University, these days, but he’ll come down to work with me in the shop tomorrow. We’ll get his new clutch

Audi Quattro Clutch

Here’s the clutch we’ll be replacing tomorrow.

and a new rear main seal installed and start bolting everything back together again. It might not be a diesel, but at least it has a turbo. Fun!

Making Ethical Software Profitable

Once again, I haven’t posted anything on this blog in quite a while. Since my last post I ran into an idea and I’m pursuing it with the free time that I have. I think it’s an excellent business idea and if it breaks me away from corporate America, then it could be a wonderful thing for me.  Please check this out!

I’ve complained a lot about how all these huge, nasty corporations are stealing our data left and right.

The problem is that ethical software simply isn’t profitable! For Android, you can either go to the Google Play store and get trashy software that spies on you, or you can go to F-Droid and get free & open source software that is more likely not to spy on you … but non-profit software never reaches its true potential! Updates are sporadic, fixes are rare, and there’s simply no incentive to make it the best that it can be.

What if it was profitable to make ethical software that doesn’t spy on you? The free market approach is to certify software that doesn’t spy on you, the same way that:

  • Underwriter Laboratory (UL) tells you that electrical devices are safe,
  • The Snell Foundation tells you that a motorcycle helmet has passed rigorous testing, and
  • The Kosher certification tells you that food has passed specific safety standards.

These are all private organizations that ensure that products meet certain standards without coercive government regulation. Ethical Developer Group is live right now. Please head over there and check it out. Please join the email list, so that we’ll keep you up-to-date.

The End of Prayer Shaming

This was shared with me today, though it’s a year old. It’s beautiful and well-stated. It’s an excellent response to those who ask where God is when terrible things happen. This video is an excellent example of the Church Militant!

The End Of Prayer Shaming from East Catholic High School on Vimeo.

I will point out, however, that we should pray for the souls of the terrorists, too. Something is seriously wrong with these people.

By the way, I share my posts with Twitter, too. My recent post about sick, callous abortionists got kicked off by the Twitter gestapo and I will continue to share the truth as I know it whenever I hear it. If they boot me off Twitter, so be it. Twitter is out of touch with the truth, and somebody needs to point out the error of their ways. It is uncharitable not to do so.

Meanwhile, I’ve been working furiously on a backlog of automotive projects. I’m also starting a business and will announce that later. I don’t know how much blogging I’ll be able to do here, but perhaps I can at least get a summary on here of what I’ve been doing.

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!

R320: Why Buy a Mercedes?

This AWD minivan is our new efficient family hauler.

This AWD minivan is our new efficient family hauler.

I know, I know, it sounds crazy that the guy who used to be so practical-minded would buy a Mercedes, of all things. Please allow me to explain!

First, the Suburban was requiring too much attention. The diesel conversion in a vehicle that complex required constant attention. Further, being that the vehicle was an aging, poorly-designed K1500 model, I was never happy with the handling or the brakes (yes, these are common complaints with the stock vehicle, so my conversion wasn’t the culprit). My wife was never comfortable driving it, either. When one of the rod bearings started making banging noises, I already had my eyes on a somewhat smaller vehicle as a replacement, one that would achieve 90% of what the Suburban did in a ready-made, well-integrated package. I don’t think that doing the conversion was a mistake, and I learned a lot that can be applied to future vehicles, but I definitely want to stick to simpler, lighter-weight vehicles where such a conversion can really shine. Perhaps something like a diesel sandrail or one of those common VW-TDI-into-Suzuki-Samurai swaps. We’ll see where I go in the future on this front, but I really want to pursue something where the swap results in an improvement over stock performance and things are kept simple and inexpensive. The Suburban cost me about $16k to build, and with all the systems I needed to integrate to make everything functional, it took about 18 months of my “free time.”

For those who are new to this blog, I currently own four turbo diesel vehicles. Call me strange, but I love torque and I demand good efficiency in my vehicles. The result is that diesels make a lot of sense. People will point out a higher initial cost of these vehicles, but I never buy new vehicles and when you look at used machines the cost of a diesel, typically, is not much higher. Especially not when you take the longevity of these machines into account. Maintenance may be more expensive, but I do my own maintenance. My vehicles are my #1 hobby, so I enjoy maintaining them and I absolutely refuse to go into debt to buy a vehicle.

R320 Rear View

There are some cosmetic imperfections, but this vehicle is mechanically solid and has a lot of potential.

This post wouldn’t be complete without bringing up the current car market. Are you looking for a new car? I’m writing this in May of 2017, and Peter Schiff’s latest update included information about manufacturers seeing worse-than-expected demand for their new vehicles. This is especially notable when they were already expecting declining year-over-year sales figures. So, the decline is worse than they thought. Don’t let Janet Yellen or her minions at the Fed fool you: this economy is on the precipice and we are seeing cracks in our biggest three economic bubbles in the United States (homes, autos, and education). These guys are playing a con-game with our economy and their “data-driven” approach to managing the economy (something which Austrian Economics shows can’t be done) is creating a mess. Without going further into detail on Austrian Economics (see, or Contra Krugman, if you’d like to learn more), the bottom line is that lots of dealers have inventory sitting on their lots and now is a great time to find a deal. Further, that fact also affects the used car market and many used cars are ridiculously inexpensive right now. Given that I’m a person who prefers to stay 100% debt-free (yeah, I have a mortgage, but I’m working on that), this makes the capability that can be found in a used car a completely amazing bang-to-buck ratio!

So, still, the question is why I would buy a Mercedes. The answer is in the specs for this Mercedes minivan:

  • Spacious room for six, even the third row will comfortably fit somebody over 6 feet tall (though nobody in my family comes anywhere close to 6′).
  • The same 3.0 OM642 V6 turbo diesel that is used in the Sprinters and a slew of other Mercedes-Benz vehicles. A common engine means that its strengths and shortcomings are well-known and parts won’t be too terribly rare.
  • More on the engine: 398 lb-ft of torque!
  • 4-matic. How many minivans have all-wheel drive systems?
  • Combining this with the same seven-speed automatic and transfer case that are used in a number of other models, including the R63 500+hp fire-breathing R-class, the drivetrain ought to be bulletproof.
  • The machine is EPA rated at 28 mpg highway.
  • Depending on where you can find the information, the towing capacity is between 3500 and 4600 lb.

Does that sound good enough? How about this: I found one with somewhat high mileage (145,000) for less than $7k. It has its scuffs, dings, and a number of issues that need attention, but this is an amazingly capable vehicle for the price. With classic Mercedes vehicles going 500,000 miles, I expect that this machine will also achieve a long life with some minor adjustments and modifications, along with proper maintenance.

That leaves one more question: What about maintenance? Given the time and capability I’ve shown in doing the Suburban modification, I believe I can do what’s needed on this vehicle, too. Further, I’ve already purchased a knock-off SD Connect multiplexer and software, giving me the code scanning, reset, and recoding capabilities that the dealers have. Perhaps more, as the system I have includes Xentry with development mode and something called Vediamo, which is a development suite.

So, that gives you a quick background on my latest project machine. I’ll follow this with posts about some of the work I’ve been doing.

Meanwhile: may the Lord bless you and keep you running on all cylinders!

Indiana State Trooper Driving Recklessly

I was westbound on I-70 just west of Indianapolis on Friday afternoon, talking with my father via Bluetooth, when I caught this on my dashcam. An Indiana State Trooper was in a hurry to get to a wreck … but that wreck could easily have been his or her own!

AOD: Rebooting

Hey, life has been crazy and I haven’t been doing anything with this blog for quite a while.

My son will graduate from home schooling in just a couple weeks and my daughter will follow a year later. My son’s going to take a very interesting path from here, and I’ll certainly be sharing more about his approach. For now, though, life has had the usual challenges that we all encounter, as well. So, I’ve had other priorities, but I haven’t stopped working on projects. Naturally, many of them are done out of sheer necessity or based on my unwillingness to accept the normal way of doing things.  I think that I learn useful things along the way that should be shared with you.

I’m going to spool back up on sharing things that might be useful to you, so please subscribe to this blog and my YouTube channel, so that you don’t miss out on some interesting things.

A number of changes are taking place, and you should expect the following from The Art of Diesel:

  • I’ve gotten more devout in the Catholic faith. I’ll share thoughts and information related to my ongoing, lifelong, spiritual journey.
  • I’ve sold the Suburban and I’m working on another project preparing a practical family hauler for a fraction of what the Suburban cost me. This project is getting to be quite technical, and I’ll share what I’m doing with a Mercedes R320 CDI that was sourced for cheap. I’ve already taken a lot of photographs and video that can be shared.
  • Of course, I’ll cover automotive projects related to my other turbo diesel machines and anything else mechanical that I wind up working on.
  • I’ve become more interested in exerting independence in the technical world and will share steps that anybody could take to become freer in a world where your information is being harvested for nefarious purposes by every organization that touches it.
  • I’m less and less interested in national politics, but I will get more involved in what’s happening at the local and state levels. As a libertarian, there’s a lot more that can be done working at these levels. I will share my exploration of local politics.
  • The site will gain a new look.
  • Could there be another book in the future? Time will tell.

Hang on, as I expect this to get interesting. I will continue to question the idiotic way that normal people approach life. I promise that I will ask tough questions and present you with at least one set of options that goes well outside the norm.

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


Glow Plug Harness: Powerstroke Parts on a VW TDI

I’ve been enjoying my 2005 Passat Wagon TDI for nearly two years, now. Like my Jetta, it’s another little diesel in my fleet. The engine is the BHW code, making it a Pumpe Duse engine. It’s not as efficient as the Jetta’s ALH engine, but it still gets me into upper 30s, but with a more comfortable family machine with a leather interior. When I bought the car it had a dead automatic transmission, so I was able to get a deal on it. I dragged it home and got to work on swapping the transmission for a standard using used factory parts sourced from Dutch Auto Parts in the Netherlands. Today you wouldn’t know that it came with an automatic transmission in it, because it looks completely stock.

This is the inexpensive part I used to replace my worn-out glow plug harness on my Passat TDI.

This is the inexpensive part I used to replace my worn-out glow plug harness on my Passat TDI.

The car now has 200,000 miles on it and I started getting the dreaded “EMISSIONS WORKSHOP” messages every time I started the engine. Pulling the codes, I found out that I had an open circuit at one of my glow plugs. I checked the glow plug and found that it had good continuity, so I knew it was the harness. VW charges too much for glow plug harnesses, and I must say that I didn’t bother to price it this time around. I wrote up an article a while back showing how to use R/C bullet connectors to make a glow plug harness rather than spending $80 on a factory part. Some of you told me that you’ve used the Powerstroke 6.0 harnesses you’ve bought on eBay, so I decided to give this a try. I found this one on eBay for $19.99. In case that link is dead, the seller was calvinvo, and the title was “2004 – 2010 Ford 6.0L Powerstroke Diesel Glow Plug Harness Left Driver Side.”

It came fairly quickly after I ordered it. I got started by chopping off the connector and peeling back the convoluted tubing. THEN, I realized that I’d like to start blogging again and took a snapshot of it. I should have taken a snapshot first, but this still gives you an idea of what it looked like.

I checked the four wires with an ohmmeter to see which color went to which connector. Using the one closest to where the connector used to be for the #1 cylinder, the codes are yellow for #1, red for #2, white for #3, and blue for #4. I tried snapping one of them onto the #1 glow plug after I removed the original harness, seeing that the large plastic caps would allow the couplers to snap onto the glow plugs.

Note that the black coolant tube has dimples near the glow plugs to make room for the stock harness.

Note that the black coolant tube has dimples near the glow plugs to make room for the stock harness.

I made new solder connections and covered them in heat-shrink tubing. Then, I went to install the harness and found that #3 and #4 didn’t fit. I realized that a coolant tube runs quite close to the head on the BHW engine, keeping the large plastic connectors from sliding into place. To make room for the stock harness, I noticed that VW put dimples in this tube.  I wasn’t going to enlarge the dimples or relocate the tube, so I got out my rotary tool and used a cutting disk to remove material from the underside of the plastic connectors for glow plugs #3 and #4.

These plastic connectors have o-rings for the Powerstroke application that must be used to keep water from getting into the cavities where the glow plugs are on that engine. The VW TDI engines have glow plugs that are exposed to the air, so there’s no need for this much plastic. I trimmed them back until I could snap the connectors in place.

I trimmed the glow plug connectors on cylinders #1 and #2 so that they would fit alongside the coolant tube that runs past the BHW head.

I trimmed the glow plug connectors on cylinders #1 and #2 so that they would fit alongside the coolant tube that runs past the BHW head.

Success! I’ve been able to clear the code and I no longer create an embarrassing blue haze hanging in the air when I start the cold engine on a cold day!

Suburban for Sale

Everybody, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted on here and I need to let you know that I’m making some changes in my life. Because I’m the father of two homeschoolers who are in their last couple years of high school, I can’t put the effort into the automotive hobby that I have in the past.

Yes, you haven’t seen much on here, because I wind up “just doing it,” and don’t have the time to take snapshots or even write blog posts about what I’m doing. I’d like to change that in the future, but that’s where I stand today.

I recently did a valve job on the Suburban’s 4BD1T with new valves, rebuilt rockers, and had everything professionally machined. I got it all back together, but now it sounds like something went in the bottom end of the engine. This really drove it home how much time I’m spending out in the workshop and I really need my 4×4 ready for winter. So, I’ve decided to sell it:

Meanwhile, I found a screaming deal on a Mercedes R320 CDI. This vehicle is basically an all-wheel-drive minivan with a 3.0 turbodiesel under the hood. These get 29 mpg on the highway and the engine has 400 ft-lb of torque at 1700 rpm. At the low price I paid, it’s no surprise that it needs a bit of work, but the drivetrain is solid and it’s driveable right now.

I intend to post information on the work I do to this vehicle and our other turbo diesels, but I’m really under the gun right now. Also, I need to roll up my sleeves on some political actions, and I intend to start sharing that again, too.

Free Book Until This Sunday!

The Kindle e-version of my book The Art of Diesel: Building an Efficient Family Hauler is free until this Sunday, the 12th of July 2015.

This book is primarily about why and how I put an Isuzu turbo diesel into a Suburban. The result is a large, capable, four-wheel-drive vehicle that is fun to drive and achieves 25+ mpg on the highway. Preppers might like that this vehicle has 1,000 miles of range and looks like any other 1999 Suburban on the road.

I manage to sneak a fair amount of libertarianism into the book, and I do my part to promote the concept of unfettered free markets. A couple readers complained about my politics, but the book still manages to get 4.7 stars out of 5 — so it stands on its own as a how-to/hobbyist/automotive book.