Metal, Wood & Wire – 09.22.015

I can’t believe this project has been going on for 5 years.  The car has went through so many different phases.  A lot of sweat and man-hours.  Endless nights not sleeping.  Thinking.  What can be done to better suit my ideals.  Part numbers everywhere.  Memorized nut, bolt and torx sizes.  It’s really a close bond with a mere machine.  It may not verbalize anything, but it feels like it has a soul.  It breathes and connects with you.  It’s an endless passion in pursuit of a seemingly endless goal.  I was asked if once I do ‘xxx’ will I be done.  And the simple answer is, it will never be finished.  There will always be something that can be changed or restyled.  My tendency to never leave things alone seems to keep me chasing after some sort of greatness or appreciation.  When in reality, the car is great just the way that it is.  It’s one-off.  One of one.  Albeit, its basis is just your standard, run of the mill, Jetta.  It can just as well be done to any other functioning Jetta.  But this one is mine.  And because I see it everyday, I live with it as is.  But every now and then I sort of revel in how eccentric it is.  How rare some its features are.  And it makes me love my car that much more.  But enough of the philosophical car gibberish.

Last time we left off there was talks of a purchased air suspension kit.  Well a few weeks had went by and it was time to pick up the kit.  So I headed to southern California one weekend in August to visit with some friends, who were gracious enough to pick up my kit from the seller.  So we made a weekend of it.  Once I made it back hone, with 3 boxes in tow, I was able to set some time aside and sift through each and every part.  Being the neurotic, clean freak that I am, I cleaned nearly every single piece of the kit, then rewrapped each part and put them all in a rollaway bin.  As far as I know, everything is in great shape.  But lets not forget I’m new to the world of air suspension, so looks may be deceptive.  Lets hope thats not the case.

Anyhow, here are most of the high-level bullet-points for parts:


  • Airlift Performance Front struts/bags with damping and camber adjustment
  • Airlift Performance double bellow bags
  • Koni Yellow adjustable rear shocks
  • Accuair E-level VU-4 with ride height sensors and touch pad
  • Dual Viair 444c compressors
  • Dual water traps
  • Dump Mufflers x2
  • 5 gallon Accuair hand polished tank
  • Accuair EXO mounting for tank, manifold, and compressors
  • All power supply wires including 4ga power with inline fuse holder
  • Upgraded Stinger relay
  • Dakota digital round gauge with 5 sensors for corner and tank pressures
  • All the misc fitting needed for install

Not that bad of a kit, right? Once I had the kit in my possession, it was only a matter of time before it would get installed.  From a mechanical side, I could fully handle the suspension install.  Maybe even the trunk component installation.  But by no means could I do the air lines or even attempt to work with the electrical side of it.  I know my strengths and electrical is not one of them.  Enter Sprint Autoworks / #becausebags.  I met James a few years back through a great friend of mine, Rick (the same Rick who fabricated the whole exhaust setup).  I had always marveled at his work and the projects he was apart of, since then.  My goal was that one day, James and company would outfit my car with a full air-ride setup.  Well, after nearly 3 years of wanting and waiting, its soon becoming a reality.  Since making my appointment, I’ve been scrambling to do various things; build up a false floor in my trunk to hide all the components and still have some functionality of a trunk, itself.  Also, relocate and rewire some of my gauges as well add in my new Dakota Digital 5-way air management gauge.  It measures air pressure at all four corners plus tank pressure in full digital readout, as well.

Once I had all of the components sorted out, I was left to a puzzling question: What color should my tank be?  I could leave it polished, but theres not one polished metal item on my car.  I could paint it body color to tie it in.  Or do one better and paint it red to match all of the highlights and accents of the car.  That seemed to be the more fitting avenue.  So I got to my scotchpad and started to scuff the polished aluminum tank.  Once completed, wiped down and degreased, we then coated it in etching primer.  From there it was ready for paint.  The final product was better than I could have imagined!

Looking over, what seemed like, thousands of different trunk setups and viewing how others had completed their management and false floors, I started to get some ideas of what I could do.  Because my spare tire tub had been cut, I ended up having to flip my spare tire, upside-down.  This added about 3.5″ in height.  From there, I measured out the trunk and with the help of my dad, built a box/floor for the trunk with ‘quick-release’ bracing and a pedestal for the tank/compressor setup.  This would be measured out and built out of 1″x6″ soft pine.  Light enough to not load the trunk down with weight, but strong enough for light-duty ‘hauling’ and structural stability of holding the air suspension components in place.  But because it was made from wood, I couldn’t bare the thought of leaving bare wood.  Hard-edged wood and an abundance of wood glue is just so unappealing to be left alone in a car.  Even if it’s not going to be seen all that much.  It doesn’t have to be a built show car trunk but it did need to be somewhat appeasing.  So with that, I then started to sand down all of the sharp-edged corners of all pieces.  Sanded down the excess glue and prepared to coat the box in truck bed liner.  This would provide a black color and some added durability, not that it’s required.

Now that most of the big ticket items were completed, it was time to tend to {read: fixate) on the little things’ air fittings.  I could have easily left the brass fittings as they were.  But my dad asked I wanted to polish them.  I didn’t even know it was a thing.  But after a couple of quick rubs with a terry-cloth and some compound, I was sold.  So I set out on polishing each and brass bit, by hand.  This time using metal polishes.  The outcome was amazing.  The brass, while not a main theme in the car, looks amazing.  So glossy and way more clarity in the metal than when I first received them.

At this point, all that is left is to run the wiring for my gauges and relocate my oil pressure / oil temperature gauges to a new dashpod from NewSouth Performance, who I had previously used for their console pod.  I start to pull apart my dash and within minutes I have wires thrown up all over me.  I despise wiring/electrical.  I’m not very good at it but I will at least make the effort.  I got all new 18g wiring in 6 different colors so I had more than plenty.  All new insulated connectors, just as well.  I talked a few things over and got some points from my buddy Austin who does this kind of stuff for a living.  After being set at ease, it was just a matter of making length cables and doing each lead one by one.  Which ended up taking quite some time, but I stuck it out.  I pulled out all the previous lines I had ran when I first installed the gauges as I wasnt very thrilled with how it came out, but it being my first time, I guess I cant be too hard on myself.  Continuing on, I figured while I was running wires for this all, I might as well run new leads to my oil pressure and oil temperature senders.  Ensuring they are each one single line and hiding/tucking where I could.  Now maybe I could actually clean up my engine bay and show off the beauty that Integrated Engineering created.  Anyhow, once all of the wires were in their place, it was just a matter of putting everything back in place and getting the gauges connected.  Much to my surprise, no problems to report as of yet.

Now all that is left is to finish painting the pedestal and cross braces for the trunk.  Should be done later this week.  Then from there, wait 2 weeks until my car is sent in to have the air suspension installed.  After that, the car should be complete in its entirety.  Can’t believe it, but we’re getting down to single digit percentages of how done the car is.  Never thought I would ever end up this far along or this far invested into a car.  Till next time, stay tuned…


799Belated or Early Christmas?


802The cast and crew





801When you buy air suspension…

807Measuring a few things

809“I’m just going to test fit my new dashpod”

808How many ‘extra parts’ will i end up with now?


811Less shiny

813No Shiny




815All done by hand


819Laid out quite nice

820More measurements



823Finally sealed up the rear trunk after about 8 months



826The only thing my CD wallet is good for these days


Filing down nail ends

829“Cool day”

828Wood glue everything!

830Current trunk setup int he raw

831“Quick release”

832Hard-edged before

834Hand-sanded soft edges after



836Ready for the bed liner

837Base coat



3rd (maybe 4th) Final coating.  I dont exactly remember… Paint fumes.

840Brass fittings for air (before)


841After being hand polished



845Wires everywhere


847Handmade daisy-chain leads


849“I should redo my sender leads while I’m there”

850Finishing up







Final product – PPG Merlot to match all trim pieces


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s