All posts by crowz

Just an old computer guy that loves working on cars.

Bought a BMW X5

I had been wanting something that drove like a BMW and could get up my driveway. I own several BMW’s already but they all are a pain to get up the driveway when it rains. I started looking for an X5 over 6 months ago and finally bought one.

So far I like it. Drives like a dream just needs some TLC to get it to where I’m happy with it.

The air conditioner worked great but took up to a hour to actually come on. This was very annoying to say the least. I had never dealt with a variable displacement air conditioner compressor before. All the normal compressors I had worked on either worked or didn’t. When the compressor type used on my X5 went “bad” it caused the a/c to have to be on for a long time before it actually started cooling. Once it did it would blow 38 degrees out the vents so it worked great but took forever to kick in. I replaced the compressor yesterday after first trying to change the valve in the old compressor. The new compressor seems to be working good. I will know for sure later today when I crank the X5. If it starts cooling instantly then it is fixed.

Next project will be the headlights. The X5 has adaptive headlights. Its pretty wild watching them in action. Most modern vehicles with xenon/hid headlights have auto leveling, which these also have. But the cool part of the adaptive headlights has to do with them being able to turn left and right not just up and down for leveling. When you turn into a curve the headlights actually turn to point to where your going.

The problem with the headlights on my X5 is there are horribly dim. It has the worst amount of light output of anything I have ever owned. The headlights lens are frosted bad and I have a kit coming Friday to try and polish the haze out. That should restore some of the light output. But I’m afraid the actual bowls they bulbs sit in have lost the reflective coating and that is why they are so dim. The lens that covers the bowls make it difficult to know for sure if that is the problem and the headlights are sealed so I can’t take them apart to see if that is the problem either.

Well more later.


More Solar updates and car shopping

This entire month has been a mad house work wise so I haven’t had time to do much on my various projects. I did get a free day one day to install two 255 watt 24 volt panels to my system bringing to primary bank to 1 kilowatt or 1000 watts. I’m running multiple controllers so I’m way above that total but its nice to start switching over to the 24 volt panels vs the 12 volt panels for the house.

The 24 volt panels are more efficient since its a single panel at 24 volts and not two 12 volt panels in series. Also 255 watts is better than 200 watts of two 100 watt panels in series.

The only drawback if there is one is the size of the 24 volt panels. These suckers are HUGE. Almost the size of 4 of the 12 volt panels combined.

I still have a bunch of new parts to add to the system just no time to install them right now.

Hopefully I will be adding two more vehicles to the stable soon. I have my wife’s BMW 528i and a BMW 318i up for sale and both are supposedly spoken for. If they both sell shortly I will be picking up a BMW X5 for myself and a Corvette C5 for the wife.

The X5 will handle the driveway far better than my 323i does and my wife wanted a civilized corvette for her to drive. The C4 is a bit much the way its built for normal driving.

I also managed to get the 24 volt to 12 volt step down converter installed on the house solar setup. With that installed I was able to wire up the in wall usb plugs to power phones and such to do away with all those wall-wart power supplies running up the power bill.

Even went with a 12 volt car cigarette type plug on a few on them and bought a 12 volt version of the power supply for my wife’s notebook computer so its charging and running off the solar setup now.

One annoying thing is I increased the size of the solar setup charging wise but I can’t buy anymore batteries for the system. It seems walmart is having a battery shortage or something. All of their marine batteries are out of stock across the entire country from what I can tell. I checked all over Alabama and surrounding states and then randomly across the country. All out of stock. Since you basically have to use the exact same batteries across your entire battery bank to work right I’m stuck till walmart gets more in.

I searched for news stories or even anyone else commenting on the shortage but couldn’t find any information anywhere. Oh well I will just have to wait it out.

Well that’s it for now.

Catcha laterz !


Solar Update 12-30-2016 Mower to Generator Conversion

Almost the end of the year and looking back on the progress of my solar setup over the year I think it turned out pretty good.

I’m at 900 watts total power and I’m producing around 2 kw a day with that which isn’t to bad.

Most of the 110 volt needs are met with solar now. I still have to purchase a 220 volt inverter to handle the 220 volt appliances. That will happen later in the coming year.

I will be adding a section on my new generator solution for charging my batteries. Most people use a gas generator to power their home when their batteries are low from bad weather and general heavy clouds. I own a gas generator with the idea of using it as a back in the same situation. But this struck me as kind of a stupid way of handling the issue when you think about it.

The norm is to make AC power with a gas generator to supply your AC needs during cloudy or bad weather and then use that same generator to run an AC battery charger to charge the DC batteries. Not only does this not work that well it makes you go through gas very fast.

My solution? Simple. Don’t use the AC generator at all. I don’t need AC anyway. I need DC to charge the batteries. I already have inverters that are far more efficient than a gas generator so I just need my batteries charged. So all I need is an alternator like a car has to charge my batteries back up in the event of clouds or bad weather. So I took an old mower I had that the deck had rusted out.

I think you will have to agree its yard mowing days were over without a new $700 deck and it was cheaper to just by a new mower when all was said and done.

I removed the deck and I’m in the process of mounting a 24 volt 100 amp alternator where the deck was. Presto killer power to charge the battery banks back up.

Also it will use far less gas running the 15.5 hp riding mower vs the 6 hp gas generator.

That may not make much sense at first but you have to take into account the mower is basically idling since the alternator is run thru a belt on pulleys and the generator is direct drive so the motor has to spin at whatever rpm is required to make 110 volts. An alternator will make power from 800 rpm on up easily but the generator has to spin at 3600 rpm to make 110 volts.

So even though the mower has a larger displacement engine on it the gas generator is using a ton more gas because its having to spin so much faster.

I will have a howto page on the conversion soon showing how I did it and how my inverter will crank the mower when the batteries need recharging without me even being here.

It sure is nice DRIVING my generator to the battery bank now and charging them up vs lugging that AC generator around by hand.

Not to mention DRIVING it back out of the way when I’m done with it. But I actually have setup a spot beside the battery bank in the last few days so it can be remote started and stay connected.

Well here’s wishing everyone a HAPPY NEW YEAR!

See you in 2017 !


Solar update 11-22-2016

I finally got around to starting a section on the site for my solar build at the house.

Check it out here : SOLAR BUILD

I still have a ton more to add on what I have done so far. I’ll try to remember to add a blog post as I finish more parts of it.


Solar Power

Well I haven’t posted much lately from lack of free time. I kind of went overboard playing with solar power.

What started out as a simple method of charging my cars and trucks that I don’t drive that much turned into powering my home with solar power.

I’m going to add a section on the site covering my solar endeavors shortly.

Well that’s all for now.


Added a bit more

I added quite a few new sections in the last day or so including a general tools page. I get asked from time to time what tool I use for a project or what I would recommend for doing a certain mod or repair.

So I made a page that covers the tools I use most often. So if your into tools much here is what I use :

General Tools


Weather keeps improving here so I should be getting closer to being able to do more howto’s and getting more pictures up for the ones I already have posted. I know everyone mentions global warming all the time but it sure is hard to believe when Alabama has such cold weather of late.

Well if your being blasted by the cold like we are keep warm and stay safe.


Corvette Digital Dash Repair updated

I finally finished the digital dash repair section for the Corvette C4 area. I still need to put some more pictures in but the howto article part is done.

Check it out HERE

Also the Corvette C4 CS-144 alternator upgrade section is pretty much done.

Check it out HERE


Hopefully the weather will start warming up soon so I can get back to my outdoor projects. One project I want to get done next is the Corvette C4 Corsa catback exhaust system pipe shortening mod. Out of the box the Corsa catback system’s mid section pipes are to long. This makes properly aligning the tips impossible at times and causes the entire system to hang down lower than it needs to. I’m going to do a howto on shortening these pipes to achieve a better fit.


That’s about it for now.

Thanks for stopping by !


Getting there..

So far so good. WordPress has turned out to be fun and non stressful so I’m actually enjoying working on the site for a change.

I have the framework laid down so to speak. Still a bit more work on the pets section to go. The computer section lacks my entire antique computer collection so that’s a bunch to go there. Vehicle wise I have most of my cars and trucks entered in that now. Still a bunch more to go with subsections on those.

Also I haven’t added my antique cars yet. The 1970 Ford Falcon needs new pictures to get it added. The 1967 case backhoe section needs doing.

Next new area to add is general photos. I’m going to add mostly photos of the area I live in to that. I live in a very rural area with some really nice scenery so I would like to setup something for that.

Well till next time, thanks for stopping by.


Moving in

Well I finally decided to update my ancient site. Seeing as its earlier sections date from around 1996 or so that’s pretty ancient by web standards 🙂

Since my site consists of hundreds of sections in all I figured wordpress might be an ideal method to keep up with it all. I used to use frontpage back in the day , which most love attacking as junk which in most ways it was but it had a unique navigation system.

No other web editor/backend product ever made could touch front pages ability to flowchart web pages. You can manage 1000’s of pages effortlessly since they displayed as a giant flowchart. Allowing instant page making at any point with perfect linkage. You could see where any page connected at any time instantly and there was zero chance of an orphaned page (not linked to another page).

Still haven’t found anything that even comes close to that in any other product and Ive been looking for one for over 15 years. But for simple site updates as I do car mod pages and such I think wordpress will fit the bill.