Doing 120 Plowing Over Mailboxes










I was tootling along in the middle lane of southbound 35W at a gentle, legal speed. Someone changed from the right lane into the middle lane in front of me. I tapped the brakes to match their speed, and all hell broke loose.

I must have hit black ice and gone into a four wheel skid. I let off the brakes right away, but the car snapped sideways. The car was pointing at the left guard rail. I think at that point the tires started to bite again - I remember hearing them squeal - but the rear end must not have hooked up because the car kept rotating.

Suddenly I was in the left lane staring into the windshield of an oncoming car - 180 degrees from where I had been heading. At this point I think that I had the clutch in and was hunting for the right gear, which was probably an error. In racing and police driving courses the mantra is: if you start to spin, both feet in. If your car is more than sideways then you probably want to lock up your brakes and get stopped ASAP, rather than fool around trying to catch it.

However, I was still turning. My Wheel of Fortune wasn't going to stop on “Trip to Bermuda” at all. Another 180 degrees went by and I was facing the correct direction on the left shoulder. For just a brief thousandth of a second I thought that I might have just come through it completely unscathed.

Then I heard that sickening crunch.

I was still rolling, though, and the car slotted easily into second, so I gave it a blip of the throttle and engaged the clutch. I checked my rearview mirrors to see seemingly motionless traffic behind me. I fed in a little more gas and the car seemed to be rolling straight with no problems. No thunking. No more crunching. No squeals of tortured metal giving way and no fountains of oil spraying across all three lanes.

I stepped on the gas and continued on my way to work.

When I parked, I opened the door and looked at the rear quarter panel. I was sure that I had hit there. However, the rear was straight and true. I was shocked. Sometimes when one hits something with a car it sounds worse than it is because the car resonates.

I took a step to the left so I could see past the open door. A brutal gash sliced across the fender of my poor sweet baby. My car, paid off for barely a month, was very hurt. Sixty thousand miles of commuting and road trips. Our plans for mad dashes across the continent were themselves dashed in three seconds of black ice.

I should mention that I am completely uninjured. My mp3 player didn't even skip. The frozen clementine orange barely moved from its cozy home next to the air compressor on the floor. My airbags didn't go off. The boxes in my back seat did not initiate a garbage-alanch. Inside of my car, the only indication that anything had happened was my own smell of desperation and panic.

Of course, Thursdays are the busiest day at work, but I could barely click to run a set of queries without considering where I could source a bumper skin, and whether or not I would need a new bumper bar. My mental survey of damages kept rolling through my head and interrupting my mostly automated tasks.

I think that I will be okay, financially, even though my insurance wouldn't cover the damages to my car. Since I just paid off my car, I switched to only liability coverage. Liability insurance would cover any damages to the guard rail, but I didn't stick around to ask if it was injured.

Switching to liability saves $400 per six months. Factor in my $500 deductible, and I will break even if the damages don't exceed $900. I can easily foresee $2000 in repair costs, but I might be able save some cash by sourcing some parts myself.

One last thing: I always wear my seatbelt. You should too.

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Re: [MN-Subaru] Since we’re all talking about super sticky summer tires

Of course it snows again. Welcome to Minnesota, I suppose. I got inadvertantly sideways (while driving in a straight line) on highway 7 in Hopkins tonight. If you're driving in the tracks, make sure that you pay attention when the tracks swerve. I hit 7″+ deep sno-cone material and the
car just snapped sideways 80 degrees to the direction that I had been going. Thank goodness that I had gotten half a mile ahead of the cars
behind me.

Right as I straightened out again a person coming the other way went into the median. Then, not a quarter mile later, I saw a car in the opposite lane silhouetted against the headlights of the traffic coming that way - completely sideways.
Oh well. Not much snow left, I think.

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[MN-Subaru] In case anyone was wondering (fwd)

Someone tore the door handle off of my car last week. They got one speaker, a tire pressure
gauge, and a gift for one of my coworkers. That's what stings the most - the secret Santa gift.

Holy $#*^@#&$. I found the speaker in the alley a couple days later.

Anyway, to repair the door would be $1000. The genius or geniuses got away with $15 in goods, including the $5 gauge and $10 gift bag of COCOA!

COCOA! AAAAAAARGH!

Anyway, does anyone have a passenger-side coupe door that they want to get rid of? :)

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Re: [MN-Subaru] new member (fwd)

Garrett Sturzl wrote:

I've got a new toy now. I just bought Mike Jerry's (from Boulder, CO) 99 RS-T with an original Minnam kit and LOTS of fun stuff to play with. As Jesse can tell you it's plenty fast right now, but I want a little more from it.

Fast? Fast? It's nowhere near as fast as my next-door neighbors's Fiero. Ugh.
So Garrett came over to sell me some steel wheels (for winter tires…) and let me take his turbo RS (with 4″ exhaust) out for a spin. Wow. It was just plain crazy. If I had a turbo car, I would want it to behave just like that - torquey with firm pulling to the top. I would want a quieter car, though. Wow that thing was freakin' loud.
When we got back to my house, some neighbor kids were pointing with looks of awe and wonder on their faces, and this little kid who couldn't have been older than 10 ran his bike into a curb and fell over.
Then, one of my creepy neighbors came over and asked if the wing was stock or aftermarket. I'm sitting there thinking “look at the intercooler - it's a turbo RS!”, but my partially shirted neighbor wouldn't shut up about his Fiero, and how great the RS wing would look on it. I kept finding myself laughing nervously, perhaps fearing that if we weren't nice to the guy that he would break into my home and kill me and my roommates.
Still, nothing could break the joy and shock of finally driving a nice turbo RS. Wow.

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[STi-Mlist] Full body armor? Oh yeah! (fwd) (fwd)

I just got back from armoring the underside of my 1996 Impreza LX with 23 pounds of aluminum goodness. Paul Eklund was kind enough to send me the front skid plate and rear differential protector (for a modest fee) just in time for today's rallycross. Norm “Stumpy” Johnson and I did the install, borrowing from Paul's instructions, but making a few changes for our own whims.

Really, I got them earlier this week, but I was too sick to install them, and besides, I had to put together the 1.533 GHz PC that I'm typing on. Heh heh heh. Okay, back to Subaru…

When I got the stuff, it seemed a lot bigger than I had expected. The skid plate shipped as 15 pounds (including cardboard packaging) and is much thicker than I expected. 1/8″ thick just didn't register for me under I held it in my hands. Under the car it stretches from tow hook to tow hook and back almost to where the exhaust meets up. Nice. The skid plate came with four bolts and two 2″ Primitive Racing stickers.

The rear diff protector is big enough to hold two medium-sized loaves of bread. It feels some piece of military surplus equipment, and since it was painted(?) grey it kinda looked like it, too. It shipped as 8 pounds, which included ten pounds of newspaper, gauze, and cardboard, because something that attaches to the underside of the car MUST NOT GET SCRATCHED! The rear diff protector came with two long bolts, two short bolts, two long spacers, two short spacers, four washers, and two 2″ Primitive Racing stickers.

We did the front skid plate first.

The car was jacked up by the front cross-member and then lowered onto jackstands which were placed under the frame in useful spots. We test-fit the skid plate and discovered that my car does not allow the skid plate to be tucked behind the bumper cover. We also located the front bolt holes and cleaned them out.

The engine and suspension cross members are tied together with a little hunk of metal. The little hunk has three sets of holes. I cleaned out two years of baked-in rally dirt with my fingers and various metal implements. We put long bolts with lock washers into the two front holes and put two nuts on the bolts to ensure that the skid plate would clear the exhaust headers.

We lifted up the plate, slipped it onto the bolts, and put on small washers and nuts, being sure not to tighten yet so we could insert the front bolts. Once the front bolts (with washers) were inserted, we finished by tightening everything up. We used the jack to lift the car off of the jack stands and then started it to check for rattling.

Next, we rolled the car forward and jacked up the rear. About halfway up I started hearing a hissing noise from the front of the car. All I could imagine was that the car had rolled onto a screw or something. I ran to the front of the car and discovered the can of liquid wrench jammed under the front of the car. We needed it, so I figured we shouldn't waste it on cleaning the underside of the skid plate.

With the car securely on jackstands we loosened the two bolts holding the rear differential to the rear crossmember and removed the front four bolts. (The instructions and the diff protector itself should illustrate which) This process involved a breaker bar, rachets, wrenches, and amazingly, very little swearing.

Theoretically, one is then supposed to use a 2x4 to push on the two rear bolts (which were only loosened) so that enough space is created between the differential and the crossmember to slide in the diff cover. Our regulation 2x4 didn't fit, and the 3/8″ hunk of plywood we had didn't fit either. I looked the other way as I used a real live prybar to massage the diff into place. Norm slapped the cover into place and we were done.

Oh, wait, no. Then we had to bolt the thing into place. Being high from liquid wrench fumes at that point, we tried to assemble the spacers, bolts, cover, and diff altogether, using all eight of our hands. As the air conditioning cleared the garage and our heads of fumes, we realised that we did not have eight hands between the two of us, and that the lip was on the bracket that the cover bolted to for a reason.

Simply get the diff cover into place, then slide the spacers into place and get the bolts into them through the cover. The spacers will rest on the lip. That was a head slapper. Easy, unless your fingers are still numb from breathing liquid wrench. After a certain amount of cussing we got the correct assemblage of bolts, spacers and sheet metal together and tightened everything down.

I used one of the stickers on my monitor at work and two more on my side windows. My car now has four Primitive stickers on it and one in it, assuming that the sticker on the pressure plate is still there. I wonder if I am on the Primitive team yet. I know my car feels faster for every sticker I put on it.

Someday we will go in an either trim away the front of the plate so it can mate with my bumper or drill new holes. I'm sure that the LX just has a weird front bumper.

I drove away a happy man, and somehow, my car seems to be handling more tightly. We'll see if I really needed it after today, since the rallycross is in six and a half hours. Uff da!

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[MN-Subaru] another WRX sighting

I saw a white WRX last week - SUBARU debadged (WRX badging still there). He was youngish, wearing a tie. He had spiky hair.

He happened to be going the same way as me, and tried to leave me behind at a stop light. I stayed on his tail for the first 50 feet or so, and then his boost came on and my boost didn't.

Hmm.

Also, I let off at 35, since that was the speed limit.

Then, he turned onto Prior avenue in Saint Paul, which happened to be the way I was going. For once, the light was green and the intersection was clear as I made it to the intersection, so I pitched it into the corner and somehow managed to squeal my tires loudly as I layed down the “power” and got the back end out. (this was before the suspension
replacement).

Anyway, I couldn't tell if he was waving or flicking me off as he turned into the Knox lumberyard. Maybe I was a little crazy going around that corner, but then again, I've made that same turn hundreds of times and he started the whole thing by trying to leave me behind at the stoplight. I waved back and continued home.

Matthew Shaffer said:

That was me! I was just egging you on! I kind of had to when you launch it at the light. when we turned the corner and I saw you got sideways I was waving my fist in the air in Applause!!!

I have no choice but to launch it - it's that whole stiff clutch thing. It's a hard launch or a shuddery, chattery mess, especially when I'm
right behind the first WRX I've seen on the road.

I was sideways? Hee hee. I knew that right rear shock was going out. It's a good thing that I know that corner so very well…

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Re: [MN-Subaru] Suspension Install Update

Let's just imagine that a friend of mine picked up my car (1996 Impreza LX) with a recently installed RS suspension for me and came to Mendota Heights to pick me up from work.

Let's just say that as that friend crossed the Mendota Heights bridge southbound, an A4 1.8T decided to chase him. Continuing this line of hypothesis, let's say that as he exited the bridge and came up the sweeping turns on the hill, he hit 115MPH and left the A4 lurching and weezing behind.

You'd assume that this hypothetical person would then very quickly arrive at my place of work to pick me up. Instead, said person might just get LOST and make me wait, and then forget to tell me this story until seemingly hours later. But, ahem, none of this REALLY happened, *to the best of my knowledge*.

So when I did end up taking the wheel of my 2.2 litre (NA) Impreza LX, I found the difference from the old, stock, blown suspension to be quite enjoyable. Only a little bit stiffer, but certainly more more consistent. No more bouncing over bumps (and then bouncing and bouncing)…

Unfortunately, the rallycross scheduled for Sunday has been cancelled, so I don't get to really put the car through its paces until June. May is the Headwaters ClubRally in Park Rapids, Minnesota, where I'll be working, but not competing. :(

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Mar 31, 2001 at 05:50pm

  • Sat, Mar 31, 2001 at 05:50pm:
    by jmullan

    I wish that I could say that I had big news for those fans(?) of jmullan.visi.com, but really, aside from collecting another domain (again?), there’s not much to report.

    Okay, well, I suppose that the co-sysop, Kory, has acquired a new machine to replace the tired and aging Pentium 200 that is the current jmullan.visi.com workhorse. But that might not happen for another month. Or two. It all depends on how quickly he moves and whether or not he wants to give up having a linux box in his apartment or not. It should be cool, though, since we’ll have a clean, fresh install of everything.

    Server issues:

    All systems are functioning within normal parameters.

    Like certain fallen angels, this server goes by many names:

    your sysop (Jesse Mullan) :)

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Feb 13, 2001 at 03:48pm

Wow, it's been a while since I've added a server note. I don't think I'd be very good at blogging.

Server issues:

All systems are functioning within normal parameters.

Like certain fallen angels, this server goes by many names:

your sysop (Jesse Mullan) :)

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Re: [MN-Subaru] Backfiring in an RS?

When I went to pick up my car's Christmas present (which I bought from from Michael K. Martin), he let me test drive his RS. Now I really really want a new suspension. It was so tight and there were no spontaneous rear end dances from mid-corner bumps.
As to the dull popping noise, the one time that I thought I heard it, it sounded a bit like antilag, only very quiet. A subtle popping, which I only heard once, and might not even be what MKM was talking about.
What did I get my car for Christmas? A matte black Stromung midpipe and a factory stock RS muffler. The perfect Christmas present - something the car really wants, but would probably not buy for itself because it's too concerned with things that it needs, like winter tires and a new suspension.
I jacked my car up a bit to look at the cat-to-midpipe bolts today before deciding that it was too cold and cramped in my garage to even think about it. I'm putting it off for now, but that first warm day I'm under there with wrenches and a hammer so I can unleash those 2 or 3 hidden horsepower. :)
Unless I can find a heated garage before then…

Jesse Mullan
'96 Subaru Impreza LX AWD 2.2l F4
2000 SCCA LOL Region Rallycross Series Open Stock (2nd in Class)
1999 SCCA LOL Region Rallycross Series U4S Champion

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