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Seems the 300 is starting to show it's age. At 11 years and just shy of 1/4 million miles, needed repairs are starting to add up. A couple of weeks ago, it was the rear toe links. This time it's the exhaust. I've been engaged in a losing, on-going battle with the expansion/flex link between the catalytic converter and mid pipes for the past year. Now that the rest of the exhaust is starting to rust out, it's time to start looking at repair paths. Initially, I was pretty set on cutting off the pipe from the catalytic converter and having someone weld a new stainless steel "cat-back" system on. Brands like Borla, Corsa (preferred), and Flowmaster come to mind. Crunching the numbers, I'm looking at 2k+ for the parts, plus installation cost (mostly welding). I was looking at RockAuto for unrelated parts and decided to see what an OEM equivalent exhaust would run and found out that for ~$1000 (including core reimbursement), I could replace the entire run from the drivers side headers to the tail pipe, including a new catalytic converter. Keep in mind that this is an aluminum system as opposed to stainless steel. Mindset being that the existing system lasted this long and my budget doesn't currently allow for a nicer SS system. Added bonus here is that I will have one less catalytic converter and O2 sensors to replace in the future.

Doesn't help that I'm also looking at replacing brakes and tires in the next couple of months. As long as I can keep the repair costs are lower than monthly car payments, I'll keep the ol' girl running.

I replaced the drivers side outer tie rod and passenger side sway bar link a couple weeks ago. Since the 300 is lowered by 2.5in, the suspension geometry is off which increases the rate of wear on the parts, pay to play they say. Anyways, after replacing the parts, I promptly took the car to my regular tire place to have an alignment done. Couple of hours later, I get a call saying the car is ready, but they had an issue with the rear passenger toe adjustment bolt being seized up. When I picked up the car, I opted to get a 3 year alignment package since I replace these parts every 18 months or so. I went ahead and ordered a replacement bolt, offset washer, and nut. The following week, I put the car on the lift to see what's going on with the toe adjustment bolt, only to find this...

Keep in mind that the picture on the right is the drivers side and what the left side is supposed to look like. Seems seized is a technical term for "I broke the bolt, but I wont tell anyone". I was bit miffed to realize that I had been driving for a whole week with the toe link like this, that is, until I tried to pull the bolt out. It had fused and become one with the toe link. In addition to having to use a saw-z all to cut the toe link out, I had to drill out the OEM bolt in order to get the new bolt in. I ordered and installed a replacement toe-link the following week. The repair cost for this incident was fairly minor (under $100). I also ended up ordering that same parts for the driver's side since it's only a matter of time.

Seems my page updates are getting a bit rare anymore. I typically do not make serious New Years resolutions, but I may try to make updating the site one of them. Since my last update, we have blown through Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. So a belated happy holidays is in order (better late than never). Here's a little update on what's been going on:

Home projects
When we finished the new family room, we were deciding on what kind of lighting to put in the cans. Until recently, we had a mix of incandescent and mixed temperature LED bulbs trying to figure out which bulb/temp worked best in the room. After several years, I finally had enough (OCD was kicking in), and replaced all the bulbs with dimmable LED 4k bulbs. While this solved the hodge-podge of lighting in the room, it introduced an issue with the "smart" 4-way dimmers I originally installed, which are not compatible with LED bulbs. The end result was a strobing effect with the bulbs that would inflict marginal insanity. I'm guessing the two incandescent bulbs offset any issues when mixed with the LED bulbs. I replaced the dimmers with Lutron Maestro dimmers (master and 2 slaves). The change in dimmers introduced a new issue, they wire up differently. After spending a couple of hours tracing wire, I finally have it working.

I still love reading various magazines in this digital age. Over the years, I've been subscribed to various car, computer, and electronic magazines. Since we started the addition in 2011, I've subscribed to Family Handyman and needless to say, I'm a huge fan. Lots of good information, tips and tricks, tool reviews, and various projects.

Car projects
The vinyl tubing I used for the Oracle halo fog rings seem to be holding up. We haven't had much in the way of snow, but we have had plenty of rain. Its also worth mentioning that I changed the sealant I used to close up the fog light.

I've purchased and I am in the progress of testing one of those Chinese eBay Android units. This will be replacing my very dated looking Pioneer AVIC-D3 which has served me very well. Initial tests look like the Tocado unit will fulfill my needs. This will be on the bench for a bit for additional testing and setup before I install it in the car. I'll try to get a write up done for the Chrysler 300 projects page for this one.

Daughter's 2012 Kia Forte seems to be leaking a bit of oil from the oil pan. It doesn't help that her car uses some pretty thin oil (5w-20). After a little research, I determined that there is no actual gasket for the pan, Kia just uses a sealant to seals things up. I've purchased some Permatex Right Stuff for the fix. We'll see how it holds up.

The clear liquid electrical tape turned out to be a bust in a bad way. I had purchased new fog light housings and had them ready to install the rings when I decided to fire them up before sealing the housings up. More than 3/4 of the ring's SMDs failed to light. Haven't had time to investigate since everything looks intact. Had to purchase yet another set of halos. This time I opted for a good old fashion solution, using 3/8in clear vinyl tubing. I basically slit the tubing and slid it over the halo ring. I had planned on sealing the tube back up, but decided to just make sure that the slit was facing inwards to allow the heat to dissipate.

Looking forward to a great and relaxing Thanksgiving this year. I have no major projects on the board, so I may just make this a lazy four day weekend.

Pretty slow all around. I managed to get the remote control unit installed to allow wireless locking and unlocking of my daughter's car via key fob. Despite the 2000+ wires on the unit that allows it to tie into just every light/horn on the car, I am unable to use any of them due to the Kia's CANBUS system. My daughter was surprisingly OK with the fact that she would not have any indicators (horn, head/parking lights) that the car was locked or unlocked. I'm still in the progress of tracking down any wiring schematics to figure something out.

We had heavy rains a couple of weeks ago that managed to cause some minor flooding in my area. Some water managed to make its way into one of my 300's fog lights resulting in the shorting of a couple of LEDs in the halo ring. This would be the third ring to get ruined by water seepage despite every effort to seal the fog lights. I ordered a new pair of halo rings and have been testing ways to absolutely water proof the rings in addition to the fog lights. After some testing, it appears that Star Brite clear liquid electric tape seems to be the best bet as I can run them fully submerged in water.

Work wise, I've just started working on implementing service monitoring of the Telcom equipment into our existing network monitoring system. This entails SNMP probing various equipment and decoding return strings and in turn, sending a more specific alarm to on-call personnel. Telco on-call staff currently just receive either a major or minor alarm and it's up to them to log into the suspect equipment to determine the issue. I'll admit, this is part of the job I really enjoy.

Second update in a month, it can’t be. A lot going on project wise, mostly house stuff, but I do have a big update to my MAME Arcade cabinet. I’ve been trying to keep up with the MAME software updates over the past several years, but fell behind after version 0.168 due to lack of updates to the FreeBSD mame port. I was able to “engineer” patches to get up to a working version 0.171, but it ran horrendously. As of this post, the current MAME version is 0.176, but I have been unable to compile it from ports or source. My biggest hurdle is mostly myself and the lack of more advance C programming and a little bit of GCC vs CLANG/LLVM in FreeBSD.

So, after a lot of deliberation, I decided that my course of action was to move away from FreeBSD to Arch Linux. Of all of the Linux distributions, Arch seemed to be the best fit for this application and despite the dreaded systemd startup, it has been a pretty easy transition. I am able to compile current versions of MAME without issue and the cabinet runs flawlessly. I will attribute the ease of the transition to the Australian BOAC site AussieArcade, and user "ozfalcon" Z-System post . Without this excellent write-up, I’d probably still be figuring it all out.

Make no mistake, FreeBSD is still my first choice of operating systems, but not every OS will solve every problem. Maybe in the future, I can return back to FreeBSD for the MAME cabinet. Of course, It would still be kinda cool to see a Linux distribution that is layed out identically to FreeBSD.

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