Ford will offer a new “Feature car”

So, you probably saw the news from last week that Ford has announced special appearance packages for the 2022 Mustang GT and Mach-E. In that announcement they mentioned “throwback styling” and specifically called out the “the original ’93 Triple White Fox body feature Mustang”.

This is the second fox-body reference from Ford which I have seen in a week. What is going on here? I think we can all agree that Ford hasn’t typically given the fox-body a lot of love. My summer had a couple examples of this.

At the Carlisle Ford Nationals, I learned about the brand new Ford Special Vehicle Registry. I haven’t written about it yet as I can’t register my car on the site. I asked them about the problem in person and followed up via email months ago but, as of today, I still get an error. Oh, I registered my 2014 Mustang GT with no issues. There are some 1993 vehicles in that registry but I have tried at least one other feature car VIN than my own and it failed as well. From talking with them, I know they care deeply about this project but just haven’t had the time to fix this.

In addition to this little glitch, I also made contact at Carlisle with someone who had knowledge of the Ford Show Parts offerings including their certificate of authenticity programs. At my request, he researched the feasibility of providing a certificate for feature cars but found that Ford does not have the data to produce such as certificate or to verify the authenticity of our feature cars. Hmmm. Somehow Marti Auto Works is able to provide us with a deluxe report that includes our feature car package and also our build dates. This seems to be all the data you would need and this must be sourced from Ford. Right?

Both of these left me a little disappointed about Ford’s enthusiasm for our feature cars and the fox-body in general.

And then, the Eluminator was announced. It’s a 281 hp electric crate motor from Ford Performance. You might think that it is not particularly noteworthy to fans of 28+ year old Mustangs, until you read the Carscoops article on this announcement and spot this little gem –

Ford was tight-lipped on specifics, but told us the motor will produce 281 hp  (210 kW / 285 PS) and 318 lb-ft (431 Nm) of torque. Those are decent figures and Ford’s Chief Product Platform and Operations Officer, Hau Thai-Tang, noted the output is higher than what was available on the Fox body Mustang.

It’s the last line that got me. There are other groupings of Mustangs to measure this 281 hp against. Most notably, 281 hp is more than any SN95 Mustang GT ever had. But, a Ford chief relates this ultra modern crate motor all the way back to the Fox-body Mustang. Obviously, someone there does recognize the importance of the Fox-body and where it lies in their customer’s hearts. Cool.

Speaking of cool

And, then comes the latest news of the Ice White Appearance package. The original Feature Car packages came at the end of the Fox-body generation as a way to increase demand for the Mustang. With rumors of a redesign for 2023, this package does the same for the S550 Mustang.

The Ford news release states that this is being done to celebrate the Woodward Dream Cruise. What is interesting is that this is not the first white treatment for a Mustang that Ford has done for the Woodward Dream Cruise. Back in 1997, there were 58 white Mustang special editions for the Cruise coming in both coupe and convertible body styles. That car was a joint effort between Ford and ASC. Although, never called out as a feature car, it had a white exterior, white 5 spoke wheels and a white spoiler.

1997 Woodward Dream Cruise Mustang GT
1997 Woodward Dream Cruise Mustang GT badge

And, now we have a new “special edition” car. It’s not called a “feature car” but is compared directly to the 1993 triple white. And, because I can, I feel that it is appropriate to measure this new “feature” car against that original 1993 model. I’ll break it down in a few major areas and rate it in terms of faithfulness to the original and execution.

Exterior – spoiler

The spoiler is arguably the signature “feature” of the original feature car. For 2022, I think the Performance Rear Wing is a great choice. True, they already have this wing which would normally require the Performance Package, so it’s not just for this special edition but, from many angles, it evokes the original feature car spoiler.

Spoiler faithfulness and execution – 10/10 (a couple points added for using what you already have when it works)

Exterior – wheels

Here, I’ve got the biggest issue with this car. Honestly, though, this must have been the toughest design decision on this whole car. White wheels scream the 90’s. And, any car in 2021 with wheels other than your basic silvers, grays, blacks and their various shades is just not a good look. But, they did what they could. And, I’m okay with the hybrid of painted and machined. I just don’t like this wheel. I would have rather seen a five spoke wheel design like the 18″ Machined-Face Aluminum with Low-Gloss Ebony Black-Painted Pockets Wheels with the black paint replaced with white. Or, a bolder choice would have been to take the 19″ X 8.5″ Ebony Black-painted Aluminum Wheels from the Black Accent Package but to do them in white. Holy cow would that have been wild!

Wheels – 5/10 (not bold enough)

Exterior – other

For the rest of the exterior, we will rate it as a whole. Stating the obvious, I am a little disappointed not to see this as a convertible. But, my feeling is that almost all Mustangs look better as coupes than as convertibles so I can’t complain too much. If I were buying, I’d take the coupe over the convertible if there was a choice.

The question here is how much can you white out? I think they’ve gone with a decent compromise even though there still are a fair amount of black plastics. I think the mirrors could totally go all white and still look good. For the rest, I’m not sure what else I’d white out without passing the limit of tastefulness.

I also applaud the absence of “special edition” badging on the car. I just heard from someone who, in 2021, bought a 1992 feature car where neither he nor the seller knew it was anything other than a run of the mill Mustang. In the spirit of life’s little surprises – no badging. If you know, you know.

Exterior – 7/10 (simple changes but not over the top. Yeah, the top. Minus 1 for that)

Interior

What we are missing in the new interior is embroidery. That’s as weird as it is to read as it is to write. Floor mats with embroidered ponies would have been nice but I think they really missed it by not putting a pony on the white upper panel of the seat. I think that could have been a cool nod to both the 1993 feature cars and the pony seats of the original 1965-66 Mustang.

I think the interior holds true to the original in that none of the whites look to match. The Oxford White leather seat inserts might match the door panel inserts but they certainly do not match the dash pad or the white stitching. Both of those don’t really match each other either.

Interior – 8/10 (too subtly done missing a few cues yet mismatched whites adds back a couple of points)

Package Offerings

This new package is stated as available on the “Ecoboost® and GT Premium Fastback” models. The way I am reading that is “Ecoboost® Premium and GT Premium Fastback” models. The LX was arguably the best Mustang value and we were really lucky to get a special edition in it. It didn’t seem like just another way to add more options onto an already premium model.

I would have rather seen this package on the Ecoboost® and GT Fastback base models giving those entry level offerings a little something special. That could have provided a nice way to get some luxury upgrades like leather seats into those base models.

Package offerings – 6/10 (too bad it requires premium but we can get this with the lower cost Ecoboost® car as well as avoid the up-charge of the convertible.

Summary

I can honestly say that I am thrilled to see this will be offered. I am mostly joking with the above critique. I understand there are tradeoffs in making something like this and that I probably shouldn’t judge it too harshly against the past. Style trends come and go. It would have been safer to choose a red or yellow car to base something on than the white. Kudos Ford. And, in the spirit of the 1/2 year model introduction of the original feature cars, let’s see a 2022 1/2 in red. And even yellow.

My only true wish for this car is that Ford keep track of how many they make and are able to provide some certificates of authenticity for their future owners. Potentially, there will be hundreds or even a thousand owners willing to pay $50 for a piece of paper that will contribute to their enthusiasm for the Ford brand and their products. I hope they are listening.

A Review of Window Stickers from MonroneyLabels.com

When my 2014 Mustang GT was new, there was a Ford web site where any recent window sticker was available. In the years since, window stickers for any VIN requested are no longer available on that site. I think it’s now limited to only those cars being offered for sale through Ford dealers.

I know that when my sticker was available I had downloaded a copy of it. I just can’t find the file! Just recently, I wanted an alternative to my original window sticker for display at shows. Not wanting to shell out $50 to get a reprint from fordshowparts.com, I searched for other options. I found that some people had referenced monroneylabels.com as a source for a downloadable copy of a window sticker. At $7.99, I figured I’d give it a try.

What I downloaded from them is below.

2014 Mustang GT window sticker from MonroneyLabels.com

This is what I remember my sticker being like when I viewed it directly through the Ford site. Particularly, I remember see the BLEND number (1201311043922) in the top margin. The 3922 stands out to me as familiar. I’m not sure why I remember it. Probably because I was trying to decode the meaning thinking it was some sort of sequential number used as cars went through the factory similar to one of the numbers we see on buck tag on fox Mustangs.

I think the information on this is 100% representative of what would have been available from Ford via the site I originally had used. Additional confirmation on the accuracy of it are some details that only Ford would have and know about my car. I special ordered my car and we can see that information indicated at the bottom in the middle. Even more so, under Optional Equipment we see “TAG 000A000 J JONES” which is precisely what appears on my original Window Sticker.

For comparison, a scan of my original is below.

Scanned original of 2014 Mustang GT window sticker. Bonus points if you can find the place where two scans were joined.

We see almost everything is accurately reproduced on the digital version from Monroney Labels. The exceptions are the SOLD TO, SHIP TO and DEALER NO boxes are blank on the digital version.

My conclusion is that this is a pretty great value and an accurate reproduction down the special order detail if that applies to your car.

Feeling optimistic, I decided to do the same for a window sticker for my 1993 feature car. The site immediately warned me that I would have to select the options that my car has –

This vehicle’s window sticker must be manually decoded.

– We will show you what options were originally available on the vehicle.
– In order to print a Monroney label, you must check packages or options manually by visually inspecting the vehicle.

This didn’t make me question this process at all. It is a very old model. They just need to load the options into the template window sticker, I thought. The selection screen was a little wonky. I pulled up a copy of a feature car window sticker to use as a reference and got to checking the boxes which applied directly to my car.

The result though was not at all what I had anticipated. Obviously, it is intended for people who are selling their car and not those of us who are displaying their car or looking for a reproduction of their original window sticker.

1993 Mustang LX Window Sticker from MonroneyLabels.com

I am still waiting for my “official” reproduction 1993 Mustang window sticker from Ford Show Parts. I did confirm in a discussion with someone from Ford that these are actually coming from Marti Auto Works and that there is a research process which needs to occur before one can be generated. It’s now been two months since I ordered it on May 13th. I will provide an update on that once I receive it. Also, I plan on ordering the reproduction window sticker for my 2014 Mustang directly from Ford in order to see what that provides.

2021 Carlisle Ford Nationals Recap

Holy cow it’s been a long time since I wrote my last Carlisle write-up. Like, 8 years long!

After last year’s low key show (which I attended but just for Saturday), this was a strong return year with a record number 3,241 registered cars! This year I did not bring the triple white. I brought my 2014 Mustang GT. I’m getting soft and wasn’t looking forward to the trip down in the fox. The 2014 is a much better driving experience. Obviously. No leaks when it rains, strong A/C and plenty of room in the trunk.

I spent the week before the show getting the car cleaned and ready to go. I hadn’t properly detailed the car since before the 50th show in 2014. I know, right! I corrected the paint, sealed it and waxed it for a pretty good result. The car went into the 2013-14 Mustang GT Coupe Stock class. I only have a few mods including the exhaust and a few appearance items.

The 2014 in it’s class with other stock and near stock cars

It’s always great to see friends at the show, some of which I only see this one time a year. My youngest son joined me for the weekend. Also, my brother brought both of his kids. It was great to spend time with everyone, go out to eat and just hang out and catch up.

If you’ve been following along, you know that I recently redesigned the club logo. So, along with the stickers, I revealed a new club banner. I know we are not going to win the “cool club” award for this but I’m proud to display a banner every year and to do some other light decorating at our tent. It’s a casual atmosphere at our tent. And, I’m very happy for that. All are welcome, club members or not.

New banner. New club logo. SCC gear here with us.

Speaking of logos and merchandise, our friends at foxbodyswag gifted us some nice keychains for giveaways at the show. And, on top of that, Joe from FBS made me a great shirt with the new club logo! It’s really great to have a friend like this!

Complimentary merch provided by foxbodyswag.com

As with last year, there was no ride and drive event nor was the Expo Center open. This was probably due to Covid concerns. I really wanted to drive the Mach-E this year. I’ve never driven an all electric car so it could have been a great opportunity to do that. Not this year, I guess.

But, there was a chance to see the new Bronco in both 2 door and 4 door forms.

2021 Ford Bronco Badlands 2 door

I knew it would be awesome to see in person but I didn’t realize how much I would want one once I saw it. There were demos on taking the doors and roof panels off. There was a walk-through of the modularity of the design with the ability to unbolt and bolt on various accessories. It was clear that this is a well thought out platform. I’d love to own one someday.

On Saturday we had our club cookout. We had enough food that a few of our friends which we didn’t know were coming were able to join us. The potato salad was awesome! I know I didn’t ask for permission from everyone in the below picture from the cookout but just note the fine print on the new banner states that your presence in the shade of the tent constitutes your permission for me to use your image or likeness in any way. Right, Myia?

Cookout time. My son on the grill!

This year I had the privilege of being a celebrity judge. A couple months prior to the show I got the email invitation but I dismissed it. Only when I got a second reminder did I sign up to be a judge. I was excited leading up to and going in to it but then really felt the pressure on the day of. There were 3,200 cars that I was allowed to choose from! After talking with a friend who had some experience with it, I decided to narrow my scope. I have expertise in fox-body Mustangs. And, I thought it would mean more to a fox-body owner that someone in their community choose them more-so than if I chose someone from a different Ford community.

So, I narrowed to fox Mustangs and, more specifically, those with few or no mods. There were many great cars and I was certain I was going to choose one of the Mustang GT hatchbacks that were there. There were several in great condition and in stock or near-stock form. But, on my last pass through the aisle, I came across a beautiful 1989 LX 5.0 hatch. It has 16,000 miles and is still owned by its original owner. It’s entirely stock down to the 10 hole wheels.

1989 Mustang LX 5.0 Hatchback

Additionally, it has a red interior. I think the red interior has gotten a bad rap over the years. So many people will dismiss a car with a red interior. I’ve had a Mustang with a red interior and during the time I had it, I had grown fond of the color. When it’s in great shape such as on this car, it really pops. They don’t do interiors like this any more.

The thing about Celebrity Choice is that the owner knows on Saturday that they are receiving an award as a sticker is left behind on the windshield as well as a card with some details on the award. This is done so that a car will only be picked by one Celebrity Judge.

Celebrity Choice sticker for this 1989 hatch

I was told there were to be about 90 celebrity judges this year. I browsed through the awards list and counted 68 celebrity awards. Only 4 fox bodies received a celebrity award and I can proudly say that one was my pick. I hope they ask me again next year as the experience was very rewarding.

Despite there being no official ride and drive event, was able to do a sort of informal ride and drive on Saturday. My son convinced my good friend Tom to take him for a ride in his 2007 Shelby GT/SC. Tom had purchased this car several years ago as a Shelby GT and later sent it to Shelby to upgrade it to a GT/SC. I joined along on the ride in the back seat.

The supercharger really makes this car quick. We drove a little on some country roads close by to the fairgrounds. For the trip back, Tom asked me if I wanted to drive. I was a little hesitant but I did drive it back and WOW! I had never driven a car with a supercharger before. Honestly, I didn’t think it was life-changingly fast with probably 125 HP more than my 2014 but, damn, the way those extra horse power are added is dramatic. As an observer, I think the supercharger whine is a little annoying. But, as a driver, I have a new found appreciation for that sound! It is intoxicating

Tom’s 2007 Shelby GT/SC

I was pretty proud of the condition of my car going into this show. The paint was really dialed in -probably over 95% swirl and scratch free. Although, I felt like every time I touched it to clean it, I was adding new scratches and swirls. It’s hard out to keep a car clean while outdoors for a whole weekend and almost always in the sun. For my pre-show detailing, I had used Collinite 845 wax for the first time. I had heard that it would haze a bit in the days after application and it certainly did. I think part of the problem was the heat of the sun and it was tough to keep the haze from coming back as it sat all day. Wiping this hazy wax when it was hot seemed to be just moving the wax around. I did my best but had to just walk away from it and let it be.

If I had to do it all over again, I would have detailed and applied the wax several weeks before the show in order to allow for a longer time to harden and cure. At least one wash before Carlisle in a controlled environment would have helped a lot. The first wash after a detail is always my favorite. Doing that with a shared hose in a shared wash area is not the most optimal way to do it.

The result though was still pretty stunning. And, I’m sure it was the major factor in me receiving 2nd place in the class! I’ve never won any award at Carlisle before with any car I’ve brought. So, this was so satisfying to get.

2nd place!

Overall, it was a great show and great getting back together with friends after the hiatus that was 2020. There was great fun as a celebrity judge in my first time doing that and in wearing that badge around all day. And, great satisfaction in getting 2nd place for my car after spending many hours detailing and obsessing over it. See you next year.

TWF Site Upgrade

Over a year ago, I mentioned in my post entitled Putting the Pedal Down that I was working on an upgrade to the TWF site. Well, here it is over a year later and I am finally ready to implement the upgrade. TWF is getting a new look and feel but will still contain largely the same content.

This upgrade moves the site to the latest version of the Content Management System platform, Drupal 9. The reason that this took so long is that it was an incredible amount of work. Back in 2020, I started the process and realized it wasn’t going to be quick effort. While the content of the site migrated pretty easily, the structure was very difficult to move over. I ended up having to recreate all the menus, images galleries, forms, page layouts and more.

I put that off until recently when I restarted the project and took it to completion. While I was redoing things I discovered several bugs including some with the registry statistics computations and with the VIN/VCL decoders. Those have all been corrected.

With this project largely behind me, I thought it would be cool to take a trip down memory lane with the help of the Internet Archive Wayback Machine to see just how far this site has come.

1999 – It all started with an innocent sick day from work

Sometime in 1999, I took a sick day which is not something I usually do. I was so bored at home that day. I had been doing some things at work that were pushing the limits of the software I was using at the time. I was searching the Internet for solutions and was coming up empty. I ultimately ended up devising my own solutions. On that sick day, I decided to write up and share how I solved that problem and to publish it on my own web space. That web space was really just a place on the web server run by my dialup (yes, dialup – 56kbps) provider where each subscriber could host their own static web page. It wasn’t even on my own domain. It was off of their domain and something like www.ntplx.net/~jjones.

2002 – I pulled the trigger and bought a summer car

In March 2002, I pulled the trigger on something that I had always wanted – a Mustang convertible. I originally searched for a 7-up car but ended up finding a very nice 1993 limited edition white convertible. I roughly knew what a feature car was but set out to learn more. There wasn’t much about it that was online. So, with my already existing web space, I decided to add a section devoted to it in order to share what I was learning about feature cars. This was all still on my dial-up provider’s web server.

2002 – What was I thinking?!

There were plenty of bad decisions in web design happening in 2002. At work, I was part of a group of people doing mostly Web site development and the “state of the art” was using some software called Macromedia Dreamweaver to essentially create a graphical UI for a web site. The process was to take the image then slice and dice it into a bunch of different smaller images for use as clickable regions and also for mouse over effects done by swapping out image sections as the mouse moved over them. WTF, right?

As expected, this model didn’t hold up to the test of time. The screen captures seen here with their missing images are the best that the Internet Wayback Machine could provide. This is symptomatic of the design approach of the site. I am actually embarrassed to share this and would not except that there are three important things to note here about the evolution of the site –

  1. This is the first appearance of the green color that I so fell in love with. The first site had somewhat of an aqua green and this new version continued the use of green.
  2. The term “Triple White Fox” appears. I don’t know of any use of this term prior to it being used on my site by me. If it weren’t for that missing image, you’d see that the site was labeled “The Triple White Fox” done in a custom font that mirrored the Mustang wording used on fox Mustangs
  3. The running fox logo appears. Although, here it is a clipart that I ripped off from somewhere and did some color changes to get it to where I wanted it in terms of being white.

Ahhh, the broken images,…

2003 – Better days are ahead

In 2003, we still see the same old awful image-based layout. “Best viewed using 800 x 600 resolution or higher” is stated. But, if we go by the Update posted 4/4/2003, a milestone has been achieved. The triplewhitefox domain has been registered!

2006/2007 – Simpler times

In the above version from 2007, we see (subtly) that the image-based template was abandoned for a more modern, text-based approach using CSS for styling and effects. In addition to the simpler approach to styling, we see the first appearance of an original white fox art logo.

Below, in a slightly older but similar version in terms of layout which is from 2006, we still see the clip art fox. Here though, we get a sense for the layout which is still using a framed approach much like the previous did but has added a right column for additional content and notices.

Also important at this milestone is that previously the site had a section for “’93 Feature Mustangs” and now this has been broadened to “Feature Mustangs” in order to cover both years.

BTW, almost no one donated to help support the site.

2009 – A real Content Management System

Around 2009, I realized that maintaining a site of static HTML was not effective. Actually, it was probably much earlier than 2009 that I realized this! I evaluated several Content Management Systems and decided on Drupal which I’ve been using ever since. This first implementation of Drupal 6 was an incredible benefit as it allowed me to focus on content and not on code.

I still maintained the framed approach with navigation on the top and left and a right column reserved for other, secondary information.

2015 – The first Drupal upgrade – version 7

While Drupal 8 was available in late 2015, I decided to upgrade from Drupal 6 to 7. I’m not exactly sure when in 2015 I did the upgrade but I’m sure version 8 was either in beta or in early release. I wouldn’t have considered the new version a solid option primarily due to support of various add-on modules that I was using for the site.

The above screen shot is from 2021 when Drupal 7 was still running. It is very monochromatic. Honestly, I don’t know when or why the site lost it’s green theming. Perhaps this was due to an update to the Drupal theme being used which was the Professional Theme. As we can see below, in 2019, the green color was more subtle but was still present on the Drupal 7 site.

2021 – Upgrade to the most current version of Drupal

So, here we are well into 2021 and I’m doing yet another upgrade. Some content on the site has remained from that original site on my dialup provider. The site still has that photo of my car taken on a gray day at Saybrook Point in Old Saybrook, CT on its first roadtrip just after I bought it. That was back when I had no idea how that car would change my life and how many times I would modify the page that contained it.

Garage Phase 2 – HVAC monitoring

In Part 2, I discussed installing a Pioneer mini split in my detached garage. In that post, I mentioned that the Cielo app that went with the Pioneer Smart Controller I installed in the mini-split fell short of my expectations of what I was able to see in terms of mini split usage over time. It’s not that the app didn’t have history of usage stats, it’s that with me keeping the mini split in freeze protection mode, the usage stats weren’t being collected at all. I think it’s considered more of a maintenance mode rather than active usage. I had expected something similar to what I was getting with my Nest thermostat with a usage graph but I just get “No usage” for ever single day even though I know it has been running.

On the left, the Nest app for my home’s HVAC. On the right, the Cielo app for the mini-split.

From here, I set out to come up with a way to monitor the usage history myself. I wasn’t exactly sure how I was going to do this. I thought of pointing my Wyze cam at it and watching for when the vent on the bottom was open vs. closed. But, I knew for sure that the vent was still open even when the heat was off. Changes in how much it was open might be too subtle to detect. This approach seemed way too difficult.

I have long had a Raspberry Pi version 2b with OpenHab running on it for home automation needs; controlling lights and so on. I also had integrated into it some old Oregon Scientific temperature sensors. They are the type where you have a temperature base station with a display for the current temperature and the ability to have remote temperature sensors which communicate wirelessly back to the station.

These remote sensors communicate via RF back to the base station and I found that it was possible to get an add-on board for the Raspberry Pi to receive those same signals. With a little programming, it was possible to capture and decode those broadcasts and to log them to a database on the Raspberry Pi. I did this project several years ago so I already had everything in place. I might actually cover that setup in more detail in a future post.

I reorganized my raspberry pi setup a bit and started to collect both outdoor and indoor (garage) temperature and to save the values every minute. In realtime, I can view the current temperature, humidity and battery status of each sensor right in the OpenHab app. And, I can also see a chart of historical temperature values over different time periods.

On the left, OpenHab displaying the raw data collected from two temperature sensors. On the right, a graph of temperature for the last 24 hours.

The result was somewhat surprising. I was clearly able to see a sawtooth pattern in the garage temperature. Visually, it was pretty easy to tell when the mini split was heating and when it was not. At this point, I was pretty sure I could write an algorithm to calculate when the heat was rising and when it was falling. And, I could hold that trend data against the outdoor temperature as a further verification of a temperature rise due to heating. And, conclude from this how often the mini split was running.

Since the OpenHab charting features were a little more basic than I needed, I exported all of the raw temperature data and used the Plot2 application on MacOS to graph it. The result was pretty neat. I could definitely see the cycling of the mini split to keep the temperature at 46°F. The temperature sensor is physically a few feet away from the mini split and a little below it so I think that accounts for the difference in the temp being maintained at what appears as slightly under 46°F, the freeze protection setpoint.

Indoor and outdoor temperature for the month of January 2021

From here, I then brought the same data into Excel and worked on my algorithm to figure out when the heat was on. Since I had data on a minute-by-minute basis, I was able to determine if the heat was on for each minute-by-minute interval. I was able to overlay the heat data onto the original plot in order to visually verify that my algorithm was accurate and I was correctly capturing the heating periods corresponding with the rise in temperature.

Two day temperature history with calculated heating periods overlaid.

In general, I thought my algorithm was doing pretty good. There are a few minutes missed here and there. I will definitely revisit it to do more tuning once I have more data. With the data in Excel, I then created a pivot table to compare hours of heating per day with the average outdoor and indoor temperature. I also plotted that data.

A pretty cool observation from this is that, as might be expected, the demand for heating is nearly exactly inversely related to the outdoor temperature.

II was also interested in determining any impact on electricity costs related to heating the garage. While I hadn’t started capturing the minute-by-minute temperature data until the end of December, I had starting running the mini-split in late November. I even had used it to heat above the temperature set by freeze protection mode in late November while I finished work in there. So, I set about to next figure out how much more I was paying in electricity.

To do this, I went back to my historical data for electricity usage. Comparing the average kWh used per day for the two months that the mini split had been in use (December and January) to what I had captured for the preceding 10 years, I was able to observe the following trend data.

Historical electricity use for December and January for the last 10 years

This data spans many different usage impacts in our home; conversion from CFL to LED lighting, switching from old school thermostats to the Nest Thermostat, the addition of gaming desktops, and more including an increase in our electricity usage due to the pandemic. Simply put, we are home more often. Clearly there has been an increase with the addition of the mini split, but not so dramatic that I am really worried about it as it did not put us at all-time highs.

To take a different view of this, I looked at the delta in average daily usage per month between the last 15 months each compared to the same month of the preceding year. This picture also does not show me anything alarming about the electricity usage added by the mini-split.

Year over year historical electricity usage change for the past 15 months

What it does show is that in late 2019 and early 2020, we were on a good path with each month showing a decrease in usage vs. the same period of the preceding year. That is until the pandemic hit in March and we were all at home. Note that July is always a wild card as cooling is a major contributing factor to our electricity use so I just view this anomaly in July as attributable to less A/C usage. Without July, the latest usage numbers for the last two months with the mini-split are not that out of line with the proceeding 7 months.

All things considered, I’m actually pleased with the limited impact that the mini-split has had on our electricity usage. As, I conclude this post, we are now in one of the coldest periods of our winter thus far. We’ve been seeing temps in the teens and single digits for a few days. I think my next post will be on this more severe cold weather performance of the mini split after I capture some more data.

What I used for this project –

Garage Phase 2 – Adding heat

In Part 1, I went through the insulation process. I achieved what I thought was a good enough result for this space – R15 for the walls, R30 for the sloped ceiling and R45 for the rest of the ceiling. Given the heat loss of the garage doors and concrete slab, this seems more than acceptable.

Insulation almost done. You can see the beginnings of the mini split install.

After the insulation install and with winter quickly approaching, I decided to get right to installing a mini split heat pump. There was a long lead up to this step which involved picking what to install. I decided to go DIY as this project would have been too expensive to justify otherwise.

Equipment choice

The conventional choice would be go to the standard DIY option, Mr. Cool. What I found as disadvantages of that option steered me to look elsewhere. These being the fixed length of the line set (at 25 ft.) and the lowest outdoor temperature at which it will heat which is 5°F. While we rarely get temps in my locale in the low single digits or below, I figured a mini split with a lower operating limit would be better in the range that I am looking for it to operate in.

As a result, I choose the Pioneer WYS series as they are still relatively DIY friendly and have an operating limit for heating at -13°F. Like the Mr Cool and many other mini splits, this model has a freeze protection mode. Most mini splits have the ability to heat in the range from the low 60’s upwards to the 80’s or even 90°F’s. The intent of freeze protection mode is to keep your space above freezing in order to prevent frozen pipes during periods when you are away. With the Pioneer, freeze protection mode keeps a constant 46°F. And, there’s no reason you can’t run it in that mode all the time, right? We shall see. Actually, we’ll evaluate the real world performance in a future post on that exact topic.

Sizing

In order to determine sizing of the mini split, you can use a very basic calculation solely based on square feet all the way up to a full calculation based on Manual J. There are calculators that are between these two as well. I found that the complicating factor in using these generic, simplified calculators was that, being a garage, my room was not standard. Any calculations should account for the garage doors, the concrete slab floor and the ceiling height.

I found a good compromise in the calculator here. It allowed me to add the specification that I thought made this complicated but was simple enough for me not being an HVAC pro. It also allowed me to try many what-if choices varying things like design temperature, type of ceiling (because I didn’t know if my tiny attic would qualify as such) and to assess the impacts of keeping the space well heated or just heated enough.

To confirm these findings, I did find a Manual J calculator at coolcalc.com that didn’t seem to require a PhD in HVAC and had a free option that seemed to give me what I needed.

My conclusion was that 12k BTU/hr seemed appropriate for maintaining the heat at 46°F through the winter months. If I decided to use it for cooling in the summer, this size would be appropriate for that as well.

Install process

There are lots of good videos on YouTube to guide you through the install so I won’t cover all those details here. Instead, I plan to cover the things that I wish I knew before I did the install.

I purchased my unit from Pioneer Mini Split Store. It shipped to me on a pallet and delivery by the shipper was seamless. The driver used a pallet jack to put in right into my garage.

This was an exciting day when this arrived. I’v3 dreamed about having a mini split for years!

Planning. I spent a lot of time planning the location of both the inside and outside units so that I would not have any coiled line set. I created a cardboard template for the outside unit. This allowed me to position it where I thought I wanted it considering the stud locations required for the mounting bracket. I wanted to get the vertical parts of the wall bracket to be on studs. And, with the walls unfinished, I was later able to install blocking in the wall for the horizontal bracket piece.

I used a couple pieces of twine cut to the length of both the line set and the control wire in order to confirm that my proposed location was good.

Working out the equipment location. Obviously, the mocked up unit would go outside and the line set would not follow the path of this draped string but would drop vertically, make a 90° turn and then horizontal to the outside unit. I held it in place to confirm this.

The flaw in this planning was that it was all in the same plane and didn’t take into account that the mini split would be mounted several inches away from the house. Luckily, I had planned for a little extra length at each end for adjustments.

Wifi module. I purchased the Pioneer OSK102 wifi kit from Amazon as I wanted to make sure that I had control of the Mini Split from my phone. More than anything, I wanted the ability to monitor it to see when it was running. This was based on my experience with the Nest thermostat, where that app helped me understand how my choices for temperature mapped to how often and how long our furnace was running (and ultimately allowed me to make money savings changes in how we heated our house). It actually turned out that the Mini split itself came with a wifi module.

Both of these wifi kits were slightly different. The Pioneer OSK102 wifi kit included a module which plugged into the USB port in the circuit board in the front panel of the indoor unit. The Pioneer OSK102 is controlled via the Nethome Plus app. The Pioneer Smart Controller kit (TST-APWIFICWPD), which came with the mini split, is a small circuit board which replaces the existing board under the front panel. It uses the Cielo Home app.

Pioneer SmartController kit (TST-APWIFICWPD) box. Circuit board it replaces is pictured. Also seen is the tool that I created to install the drain plug.

I was able to try both to see which I preferred. I ultimately went with the Pioneer Smart Controller because I thought the app was better. I was not able to figure out how to turn on freeze protection mode with the Nethome Plus App. Since it’s been a couple months since I used it, I honestly can’t remember if the app had that feature but I seem to remember it not having it.

Ultimately, though, the wifi kit turned out to be of very little use to me. It turns out that when the mini split is in freeze protection mode, the Cielo app shows the Mini split as off. As such, the history section of the app shows “No usage” for every single day. So, my hopes for a Nest-like graphic visual of when the heat was on each day were not met.

Vacuum Port Adapter. This is the second thing that I bought that was redundant. The mini split itself came with a vacuum port adapter. This is required to attach the vacuum pump to the mini split. I think that I got this with the mini split that I purchased because it included an installation kit. This may also be the reason for in inclusion of the Pioneer Smart Controller. If you are installing another brand or the Pioneer without the installation kit, you will need this adapter.

Drain plug removal/install. The Pioneer mini split has two places where you can install the drain hose. In order to have the drain hose, line set and control wire exit the mini split on the side required by my installation, I had to use the alternate drain port. This meant I had to remove the factory installed drain plug from the port that I needed open and move it to the currently open port.

The rubber plug is easy to remove but difficult to install. Actually, I tore mine trying to push it into the hole with a nylon tool. It was difficult to get leverage and to compress it into the hole. What I found was that I needed something to push it which I accomplished with a custom tool that I made. I simply took the handle from a foam brush and used my bench sander to taper it to fit into the plug. See the photo above for this tool.

Torquing connections. The torque wrench that I purchased for this project was great for the 1/2″ line which required 26.6 lb-ft of torque. It did not meet the need for the 1/4″ line. While the requirements for this was for 11.8 lb-ft and the wrench had a low setting of 10 lb-ft, it just didn’t work getting to this value so close to it’s lower limit. The adjustment grip on the handle did provide some positive feedback that there was tension as you turned it, but this went away under 12 lb-ft as it just seemed loose. I still moved ahead with the tightening which was difficult with such a small wrench head. I ended up over-tightening as the limit click was never achieved and I straightening the flaring right out of the tubing.

Thankfully, I had purchased a flaring kit as a backup as I had heard that the factory flarings were often imperfect. I was at first pleased that my flarings were all perfect from the factory but then thankful I had this kit so I could add back the flaring I took out of the tubing.

The small and large diameter tubing ends which you connect the line set to on the inside unit were not the same length. This mismatch in length resulted in an equal mismatch on the outside unit. Since I had the flaring kit, it was a no-brainer to cut the 1/4″ tubing by the approximate same difference prior to making the outside connections in order to get everything to look clean. If I had to do it over again, I think I would have cut the extra off the line set where it attached to the inside unit where the lengths of the factory pieces were different and not let that difference transfer all thw way through to the outside unit.

The result

I am very happy with the end result. I got the outside all buttoned up before the cold weather really set in. It was never clear to me how the nylon wrap was supposed to stick to the line set so I ended up zip tying each end.

The final install

On the inside, I did get unit almost centered on the wall with about 8 feet from it’s bottom to the floor. I primed and painted a piece of drywall for behind the inside unit. I then realized I had enough time left in the fall to work in my newly heated garage to install some drywall on the walls. Since I was working alone, I focused on the lower parts of the walls. The ceiling and upper walls will wait until next year.

The 2014 GT and 2008 GT/CS won’t freeze this winter!

Next up, heating usage monitoring.

What I used for this project –

Garage Phase 2

This is what it looked right after the build. It will never look this again!!

At the end of the summer I transitioned from house projects to garage projects. I couldn’t help but think ahead to the coming winter and enhancing the space used for storage of the Mustangs. Ever since I had the 2 car detached garage built in 2015, I have wanted it to be a decently warm place to store the cars. With it being not insulated or otherwise finished inside, it held no heat and pretty much maintained the same temperature as that outside.

The walls are 2×4 construction and the sloped part of the ceiling is 2×8. In order to increase the thickness of the insulation I could use, I added ripped 2×4 to each rafter to get effectively a 2×10.

Rafters with extended width

I considered thickening the 2×4 walls but the complexity and time involved especially for handling the window and door openings, seemed more than the added benefit that the additional thickness would provide. Although, I did have to address the upper part of the walls as the framing was done with the 2×4’s in a non standard orientation.

End walls with added framing (lighter in color)

With this framing done but before I insulated, I also did some other things –

– I moved some of the electrical that i had an electrician install to where I actually wanted it installed. I also added some ceiling boxes for future lighting needs as well as a box for a future celling fan.

– I added some framing in the corners for future drywall screwing.

– I added a catwalk across the top side of the collar ties using some extra 1/2″ plywood I had around. It’s a little sketchy to crawl around up there as it flexes but the need for going up there is very minimal.

I framed an opening in the collar ties. Even though I have no use for the limited space in the attic, I figured it was pretty trivial to add this now rather than entirely sealing off the attic space. As it turned out, it was useful to have this access as I added more insulation from above after the ceiling was insulated.

Approximately 32″ x 32″ opening for attic access

For insulation, I went with mineral wool rather than fiberglass. With it, I found that I could get a slightly higher R value for the same thickness. I had purchased a small amount of Rock Wool a few years ago and found it easier to work with than fiberglass in the ability to cut and shape it. Since that time, pricing of mineral wool has dropped to be the same as fiberglass. So, using it was a no brainer.

I started out with Owens Corning Thermafiber mineral wool. Handling it, even gently, resulted in it just starting to disintegrate and break apart. Working with a piece of it over my head resulted in my being covered with particles from it. I found that once it was in place, it was near impossible to remove it should you not get it exactly where you want it. It is just too brittle. Luckily I had just purchased one bundle to try it out. I would have returned it but since it came compressed in the bundle it was not possible to get it back into the bag so I just threw it out and took the loss.

I then switched back to using the Rock Wool brand. This was perfect. Much less fallout from handling it, and even the ability to remove a piece and reposition it if needed. I cut it with a handled hacksaw blade and was able to cut angles, electrical box cutouts and other cuts in order to fit tightly to the framing.

Insulation nearly complete. Furring strips installed just in case

The angles of the ceiling presented a challenge and resulted in this project taking a lot longer than I ever had anticipated. Because drywall was possibly not in the plans for this phase, I installed furring strips across the rafters and collar ties to keep everything in place. While the insulation had a pretty good friction fit, it just added peace of mind that things will stay in place.

In terms of air flow, I used Owens Corning raft-r-mate vents. It was possibly overkill, but I added them in every bay. This required two pieces which I did not overlap but separated with a two inch gap. This was based on research that I did on these vents. I also learned that coated staples should be used but, since I couldn’t find them locally, I went with stainless steel.

Note some of the cutting that required lots of time. Here, fitting around the collar ties

Relative of the attic space, I was thankful for the access that I created for it as I was able to add another layer of insulation on top of what I installed between the collar ties. I also used some of the many extra cut off pieces I had to fill in the space over the catwalk.

Unusable, but well insulated attic space

So, the end result is a pretty well insulated garage with the walls being R15, the sloped sections of the ceiling are R30 and the rest of the ceiling is R45.

Next up, adding heat!

What I used for this project –

Putting the pedal down

In times like these, it may seem like the best thing to do is to follow the herd. Which seems to be letting up, putting things on pause and waiting for things to get better. But, I think that’s the wrong thing to do. It’s time to double our efforts. We need to excel in our work lives, excel in our personal lives, be better partners, be better parents and most of all, use this new found time that we all seem to have to grow ourselves, learn new things and continue to do the things we love. Especially, those things that we might not have had time to do previously.

Rather than letting off the gas, I’ve been putting the pedal down. So, among trying to do those other things that I mentioned, I’ve been putting more time into something I love – this site. I’m trying to invest a little every day. And, it’s been therapeutic. One of the main things that I got done was to get this blog up and running again. And, by doing that, I realized just how long it’s been since I’ve had and used this as an avenue to express myself. If you read back a few posts, I didn’t think it was something I needed any more. Well, I think I was wrong.

In that vein, I wanted to give an update on the things I’ve been working on to make the best use of the free time I’ve been lucky to have.

Updates and security patches to the software used by this site and FoxFeatureCars.com

This site uses a number of separate software packages each for the main site, the forums and this blog. All of these require regular patching and updating. These types of things don’t usually result in a visible change on the site but are important to keep up with for bug fixes and, especially, for security patches. I’ve sometimes fallen behind on these. But, not recently.

Separate from this I also started the process of evaluating an upgrade the main software package that this site uses which is called Drupal. A more up to date version than what I’m currently using is available and I have started the process of determining the complexity and process of that upgrade.

Registering for the tent for Carlisle Ford 2020

It’d be easy to put this one off. The deadline for tent registration is still weeks away and the I question whether the event even will happen. But, I didn’t let that stop me. I’ve committed to it now and am paid in full for the tent and tables. And, I hope you commit to it, too. Don’t forget to register by May 4th!

We should again be located in the 1987 to 1993 Mustang LX Stock class.

Signing up for Ford Performance Club Connect

You may have seen the front page post on this. I had a nice email exchange over email with the Club Connect team to answer some questions that I had on the registration process. They were very helpful and responsive. As such, we are on the map but no longer listed at my home address!

Getting the auction history back up to date

This tracking has been on and off for the last couple of years. It’s a lot of work and, with the decline in ebay partner benefits, it has been a long time since it has been able to cover the costs of running this site. But, I still see the value in it so I continue. I’ve been considering other revenue models like a Patreon effort to support what I am doing. But, for now I’ll keep at it the best that I can. As always, click the links to support the site. Even if you aren’t purchasing the items I am linking to, I still benefit from your clicks.

Getting postings going again on FoxFeatureCars.com

Last year at this time, I went full out on the new project that Fox Feature Cars became. I posted nearly every day until I burnt after a few months of it. It was intense to post once a day. And, quite honestly, there aren’t enough feature cars for sale to warrant a daily post.

So, I’ve taken a more measured approach. I am going to post but not every day if it isn’t appropriate. If there are great cars, sure. But if there is nothing on my radar, I’m not going to dig deeper to find something that might be sketchy or something being pushed by a dealer and/or of questionable value.

So, join me on this. Let’s all improve ourselves and creation a distraction for ourselves and, quite possibly in doing so, create a distraction for others. And, since the weather is getting nice almost everywhere, get that Mustang out and put the literal pedal down.

Blog is back online

At some point, the WordPress software used here broke and was producing an error; no blog content, just the error.

“Your PHP installation appears to be missing the MySQL extension which is required by WordPress.”

I finally got off my butt and figured it out. I figure it broke when I upgraded the version of PHP being used on the site when trying to fix something else (possibly the forums) which made it incompatible with the really old version of WordPress being used.

The solution was to update to the latest version of WordPress. Which I did and the blog content is now back.

Now the question is whether I will continue writing new posts. I haven’t decided that yet. I know my last post states that I wouldn’t be posting anything else here and using either the main page or the forums. The truth is that those two options seem much more formal than I would like for my blog posts. Posting my sometimes random thoughts on the main page or in the forums just hasn’t been comfortable. I may restart using the blog. I’m not sure yet.

Blog now closed

Just a quick note that the blog is now maintained as an archive and will not receive new posts. Comments are closed as well. New content will appear on the front page of this site and no longer be “hidden” here. When new content warrants commenting, a discussion thread in the forum will be opened. This is being done to reduce the number of places where new content and commenting happen on the site.