The rear bumper on Scruffers is in pretty sad shape. It seems like one of the previous owners used to carry bikes on the back, so the bumper is heavily marred. I ordered a touch up kit from www.drcolorchip.com and decided to try it out on the rear bumper. The top is the “before”, the bottom is the “after”.
The kit isn’t exactly designed for this purpose; the bumper has small, very deep dents and the kit is designed more to fill in stone chips and scratches. Still, it looks a hundred times better than it did, and no more white marks. Unfortunately, I was only able to touch up the rear bumper today before running out of usable sunlight, so I’ll tackle the rest of the car as I can. I’d like to touch up everything before winter.

The rear bumper on Scruffers is in pretty sad shape. It seems like one of the previous owners used to carry bikes on the back, so the bumper is heavily marred. I ordered a touch up kit from www.drcolorchip.com and decided to try it out on the rear bumper. The top is the “before”, the bottom is the “after”.

The kit isn’t exactly designed for this purpose; the bumper has small, very deep dents and the kit is designed more to fill in stone chips and scratches. Still, it looks a hundred times better than it did, and no more white marks. Unfortunately, I was only able to touch up the rear bumper today before running out of usable sunlight, so I’ll tackle the rest of the car as I can. I’d like to touch up everything before winter.

Scruffers goes to the doctor

I dropped off Scruffers (my 2003 Mazda Protege5) at a new mechanic this morning to have a few things done, since I can’t work on my car at my place anymore. The prognosis: Front passenger-side wheel bearing (I asked and they said I don’t have to have the driver’s side one replaced at this time, which surprised me), replace the serpentine belt (it’s starting to squeak a little), two motor mounts, rear rotors & pads and finally new wheel studs on the passenger-side rear wheel. Whew.

Actually it’s probably for the best that I’m not doing this myself as it’s getting done a lot more quickly than if I did it. The downside of course is paying for the labor. This mechanic seems really good and is certainly a vast improvement over my last mechanic who, quite frankly, sucked.

But anyway, after this she’ll be good for quite a while…which is great, because I’ll be doing plenty of driving this summer.

Yesterday was a fun day. I attended British Car Day at Larz Anderson early in the day, and it was a very popular show this year. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the lawn packed quite as much as it was, and there was a very good variety of cars this time around.

Later on in the day I set out to make the cargo cover for Scruffers that I had been planning to make for a couple of weeks now. Scruffers came without the stock cargo cover when I bought it, and cargo covers are about $100 used (new ones are no longer available). After taking some measurements and brainstorming, I decided to make the cargo cover out of some scrap black foamcore from work and a yard of gray felt I purchased at a fabric store. I also used a 3/8” dowel I had on hand and a spare black shoelace for the cargo cover-to-hatch tethers. No sewing was involved; it’s put together with hot glue. Altogether, the cover cost me about $5 in materials and an hour of my time. I don’t know how durable this will be, but for $5, I’m not going to complain. Photos below.

cargo cover flat

Here’s the cover flat. The horizontal line about 3/4 of the way up is the hinge. The extra felt hanging off of the back mates up with the hatch nicely so there’s no gap between the cover and the hatch, and the raw edge is hidden from view.

cargo cover open

Here’s the cover open. You can see how I braced the underside and how I have the hinge set up. I might have enough felt left to cover the underside as well, but I don’t know if I will or not.

cargo cover from inside

And here’s a shot from inside the car. The color of the felt actually matches very closely to the color of the interior; it just reflects a lot of my camera’s flash.

Tonight I took apart Scruffers’ stereo and looked all over the pcb with a magnifier, but couldn’t find anything burnt out. I put it back together and attached it to the harness and it still doesn’t work at all. Both power supplies from the harness (+ and ACC +) check out ok, so it looks like this stereo is toast. I didn’t want to have to buy a new stereo for this car, but now it looks like I don’t have a choice. Luckily, a decent aftermarket stereo is less expensive than replacing it with an OEM stereo (unless I get really lucky on ebay), so Crutchfield here I come.

Say hello to Scruffers! Yes, that’s what I finally named my 2003 Mazda Protege5. Why did I name it that, you may ask? Well, the exterior is a bit scruffy, but solid. This was a mostly-highway car, and it’s evidenced by the sandblasted appearance of the front. Plus, the front and rear bumpers look like they suffered quite a bit from some extreme parallel parking.

I was finally able to get the car inspected with the arrival of its new rims and tires, since the shop wouldn’t pass it with the winter tires on. The new rims are similar to the stock rims, but an inch wider and about $100 less expensive…each! I’m still breaking in the new tires, but so far the car handles really well and the tires are great in the rain. It’s definitely a fun car to drive, but also very different from my old Focus.

Last night I pulled the stock stereo from the dash to install an Aux Mod board, which gives me an auxiliary input for the stereo. Unfortunately, I ended up blowing an internal fuse in the stereo by doing this, so tonight I’ll see about opening it up and fixing it. If I can’t fix it, I’ll probably end up buying an aftermarket stereo instead and selling the Aux Mod board. We’ll see…

I don’t really have any plans for this car other than to drive it, but I will probably replace certain things with more performance-oriented parts as they wear out, like the struts and springs and exhaust. This is not a project car though; it’s my daily driver. I have enough projects already!

New car

Well, new to me at least. This past week I took delivery of a black 2003 Mazda Protege5 5-speed to replace my poor Focus. My original plan was to have my Shelby replace my Focus, but it’s taking me much longer to get it on the road than anticipated, because it needs a lot more work than I initially thought, and I’m the only person working on it. Unfortunately I couldn’t soldier on with my Focus any longer and really needed a decent, reliable car to replace it immediately.

It’s sad to see my Focus go; it’s been my eager and willing driver and autocross whip for almost 13 years (I only raced it the first three years I had it, though). It’s definitely one of my favorite cars that I’ve owned over the years, and I would recommend one to someone looking for an inexpensive, sporty and rather stylish car. I’ve donated my Focus to the Humane Society of the United States, and they’ll be picking it up from my home next week.

The Mazda doesn’t have a name yet, and I have no plans on modifying it, aside from possibly replacing stock parts with more performance-oriented parts as they wear out (struts, springs, exhaust, etc.), like I did with my Focus. Once the Shelby is on the road, I’ll decide whether I want to keep the Mazda as my winter beater or sell it. It did come with winter tires and wheels, so that’s a plus. I’ll post pictures of it once I have summer tires and wheels on it.