A few mods before cycling today

PSI dial
I’ve giv’n her all she’s got captain, an’ I canna give her no more. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It turned out that I had 4 too many large links (or 8 links in total) on my new chain.  It was a fairly easy swap as there’s nothing particularly special about the pins.  The joining pin has a snap-off extension simply to make it easier (possible) to join a new chain.
I also increased the pressure in my shocks.  The rear shock can apparently take 300 psi and I had about 180 psi in there.  Try as I might I couldn’t get more than 250 psi in.  My pump would hit 300 psi but the needle would slowly sink to a lower level.  Despite much pumping I couldn’t get it closer to its maximum.  Anyway, the sag is now much less and I won’t bottom out as much.
I also found a nice Columbia backpack in Mountain Designs to fit my Camelback and all of my stuff.  It doesn’t have a dedicated holder for the water nozzle, but the sternum strap will do the job adequately.
I even found 20 mm pedal spacers at The Cyclery so that I could put my Time ATAC clipless pedals back on for non-technical ride, but I’ll leave them for now.
Slight issue is that my brakes need bleeding.  The front brake lever is almost touching the handlebar.  There’s enough braking to stop me, but the feel is less than ideal.
Last change is to Strava app from MapMyRide.  As nice as the MapMyRide app is, there are a few inconsistencies that have not yet been resolved.  Of slight annoyance value is the Facebook integration which might post a dog walk without my knowledge and against my settings.  The website is good but I have to navigate many layers to get the view I want.  And some graphs show my rides occurred at 200-210m ASL instead of the true range of 600-800m ASL.
Just as with MapMyRide, I won’t be able to embed Strava code to my blog (should I upgrade to WordPress pro?) so you’ll just have to join.
I’m taking on the Bonner Widowmaker today.  How many stops will I need to make?

Prius mods 5 – a few bits and pieces

The latest round of mods comes from the Prius Club of Queensland from where you can buy some of those spiffy accessories you’ve only seen on the PriusChat Shop.  Parcel arrived on Saturday (well, this is Canberra) so I was able to get started in the afternoon.

Cam you spot all four mods?
Can you spot all four mods?

Front weather shields – ClimAir Profi

It’s been so hot the past few weeks that I’ve left a gap in the front windows whenever I parked the car.  However, this can allow rain (what rain?) and dust to get in.  The ClimAir Profi weather shields are very slender and are made in Germany where, as Vince reminds us, they always make good stuff.  On days when it’s not too hot or there’s a nice breeze, opening the windows a crack can be more pleasant than A/C.

Fitting was straightforward and without clips.  The weather shield bends just enough to allow fitting without fixtures.  Getting the rubber on the right side of the shield is a bit tricky.  Don’t be tempted to remove the clear sticker at the bottom; it protects the lower window rubber from direct contact.

The instructions advise closing the window 5 times to seat them.  John advised me to manually lift the windows until they are fully raised (the AUTO function will bounce back) and leave them for a few days.  Perhaps because of the hot weather, after just one day the AUTO function was mostly working without resistance.

Since I am aiming for an aerodynamic package, why would I fit something to spoil the clean lines.  There are conditions where an open window is more efficient than using A/C, as long as the HV battery remains cool.  (Yes, A/C in a Prius is for more than just personal comfort.)  Any concern I had disappeared when I noticed that the AeroPrius YuraStyle NEO sports similar weather shields front and rear.  Good enough for him to do 1000 miles with, good enough for me.

Thin weather shield on the front window
Thin weather shield on the front window

Rear bumper protector

My bumper is already scratched.  Getting a protector is as much to hide the scratches as to protect from more.  But there is something to be said about the way that the black sets off nicely with the black window and spoiler and the red.  (Should I get smoked tail-light lens covers to complete the look?)

Alignment is easy since the centre ridge aligns to the door strike.  There’s also a tiny mark that seems to be a moulding point for the bumper.

The mistake I made at first was to place it hard against the panel under the tailgate.  Some persuasion later (that stuff is sticky!) I was able to reposition the protector back 10mm so that the curve in the protector matched the curve in the bumper.

Spider web on fuel tank cap

Prius joke.  Some might say it looks funnier on a Landcruiser.  You be the judge.

After washing the area with standard car shampoo, I prepared the surface with Repco Wax and Grease Remover, or “panel wipe” as television’s Edd China would say.  This really cleans the surface and gets rid of anything that might affect the adhesion.  Forget glass cleaner, this stuff gets it clean.

Pulling the decal off its backing was fun, as the thin sticker stretched and stuck to itself; a bit like the real thing.  After I’d placed it on car I had to lift some ends to remove kinks (boy it stretches!).  I used a sharp blade to cut the web and wrapped those bits into the gap.  Zoom in on the photo above for detail.

Shark-fin antenna

Shark fin is a literally tasteless ingredient of expensive soup in Asia.  You can get the same texture from gelatin or vermicelli at a fraction of the cost.

By contrast, a shark fin antenna is so cool.  Again I washed and then cleaned with panel wipe to get a good surface.  Fitting is a bit of a chore; it is easy to get it all out of whack.  I used a long rule across the back to check the alignment against the tailgate window gap.  The rear window washer jet was a reference point for the centre.  Once the antenna is positioned, use masking tape at the front edge and then the sides; when the antenna is stuck down within these guides it should be in perfect alignment.

Attaching the cable to the antenna socket required a washer (not provided) to give a tight connection.

Sticking the antenna while checking the alignment was a little fiddly, but worth it; it is much smaller than the standard whip.  There is some debate over whether the original antenna is within the surface layer of air and therefore changing to a flatter antenna has no effect.  It sure looks cooler and reception is fine.

The only problem is that the new 3R3 Wildfire Red Mica paint on the antenna is much more vibrant than the rest of the paint.  That will buff out.

Thanks to John from the Prius Club of Queensland for the goods and good advice.

ScanGauge e – and a big thanks to Jon

I read a Prius forum based in the USA, I’ve joined what seems to be the only Prius club in Australia, which is based in Queensland and apart from the white GenII with the Tesla sticker I see in Belconnen, there doesn’t seem to be a hardcore Prius scene in Canberra.  I see a few Gen II, Gen III and Prius v, but none seem to have been modified or tinkered with in any way.

So it has taken me from Australia Day until the end of September to finally meet someone who knows his LOD from his LHK.

Jon was visiting Canberra for Floriade (you really must see it) and took some time away from his family to meet me, talk Prius and sell me a ScanGauge-e.  Here’s the thing… the reason he had one for sale is that he had already reached the limit of 4 ScanGauges daisy-chained together and couldn’t fit any more.

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Jon has not 1, but 4 ScanGauges and a tyre pressure monitor in his Gen II. Every conceivable piece of data captured.

As mentioned, I already use a Garmin 2460LT GPS and Garmin Mechanic with ecoRoute™ HD.  The ecoroute captures data from the OBDCII port and transmits them by Bluetooth to the GPS for display.  It is even clever enough to store capture data until the GPS is connected.

In my short time of using the ScanGauge-e I can say that there’s a fair degree of overlap with the functions in the ecoroute.  However, there’s a difference in how data are presented: The Garmin has separate screens for Fuel Consumption, ‘eco score’, 5 gauges (out of a choice of 12) and of course the map.  ScanGauge-e has a 2 line dot matrix display that can display two parameters from a choice of 19 and a fuel consumption graph.  Both have a method of recording fuel used, but whereas the ecoroute records each fill up on a spreadsheet, the ScanGauge uses the data to calibrate and calculate Distance to Empty and similar functions.  Since the DTE function on the Prius is incredibly conservative (I drove 35 km beyond the DTE = 0km mark at freeway speeds and still had 4 litres of fuel left) having an independent DTE is a boon, especially if I want to hit my first 1000 km tank in relative safety.

Jon helped with the initial set-up and calibration.  I even had to fill up, which is the time to start the calibration.  Only problem was the fuel price set at $75.0.  Despite holding the button in, the value took a long time to change.  Of course, the hidden cents value was dropping rapidly, but only the tens of cents value was displayed.  Today I used a handy clamp to wind the price back to a more realistic cost per litre.  Only took 20 minutes to reach $1.46.

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My clamp-based, button-holding, value-reducing solution.  Halfway there

Makeshift installation was a bit wiry.  The OBDCII splitter worked fine (you can’t always feed OBDC data to two devices). The main issue was the amount of cable to conceal and devices to place.  Today I re-installed all of my devices in the interests of safety and efficiency.  I routed the cables under the steering column, using some unused switch blanks to enter and exit the dash.

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Neat. In a fashion

Nice.

Prius Mods 4 – Grill Block

Just as Winter is starting to wane, I finally blocked the grill.

DEFA cable socket (left of the Toyota badge) and grill block

There’s two main purposes to block the grill:

  1. Reduce the cooling effect so the engine warms quicker and stays warmer longer; and
  2. Improve aerodynamics.

After a sample size of one day, it appears to be working.  I took a few trips today recording 3.3l\100km (according to the Garmin ecorouteHD)  The final trip from Fyshwick to home, at high speed, using A/C and with no particular care or techniques returned 3.7l/100km.  The proof will be in the next few tanks, so I should wait before judgement.

BTW, the Garmin ecorouteHD can display the coolant temperature as a number, unlike the warning light as standard.  Coolant never went over 91°c.

Prius mods part 2 – tyres

When I bought My Red Prius (I really should think of a name) I should have paid more attention to the tyres. As the car had just come off lease, someone realised that they couldn’t hand back the car with bald tyres. So they replaced 3, leaving the barely legal OEM tyre on the back like a dog with a limp.
As if that wasn’t bad enough form, they chose was a brand I had never heard of before; Ovation ecovision VI-682 to be precise. I put some 10,000km on the tyres and I can say that Choice.com.au was generous when they awarded 45/100 for wet cornering. They may be OK in a straight line but even the Prius can overwhelm the tyres on a damp road. And any credentials they may suggest for low rolling resistance (LRR) are sketchy at best. Since the OEM Bridgestone B250 is not a LRR tyre, perhaps I’m just being a bit fussy. To replace the leaky Bridgestone, I realised that buying 1 tyre was not on the cards.
As luck would have it, Bridgestone had just released the ecopia PZ-X in Australia to join the EP100 and EP150. The PZ-X is a premium touring tyre, but delivers even better fuel consumption then the cheaper ecopias. I’ve been reading about them in Japanese Prius magazines and on http://www.bridgestone.co.jp/sc/ecopia/ (I say “read”, I mean “look at the pretty pictures while running the page through babelfish”) but Australia only had the EP100, admittedly with Planet Ark endorsement no less.
Not wanting to throw away a fairly new set of tyres, I just bought 2 for the front axle to provide some grip in the wet.
Almost regret not getting 4. The ride is so much more comfortable, quiet and dare I say fuel efficient? And the ecopia PZ-X will take 60 psi against the 44psi max for the Ovations. I’ll be putting 42psi in the front again and reporting on fuel consumption shortly.
Here’s more information, including a video from Ed Ordynski that demonstrates what a LRR tyre can do.

Prius mods part 1 – Headlamps

Barely worth mentioning, but I bought a pair of the trusty Philips BlueVision bulbs for “My Red Prius”. Trying to buy H11 bulbs is a nightmare. It was hard enough buying H7 with my old European cars. Apparently the Mazda 3 is using the same bulbs and the plug seems to be a more durable, sealed connection so perhaps they will become more popular soon.
My Red Prius goes in for its 80,000km service next Friday so I might ask them to align the headlights then.