It's been an incredibly busy last couple months, so here's what has been happening! Let's start off with the business side of things.
Some changes to the online store
First is a very mild price adjustment to the oil change and 2-year service packages. The good news is that these packages now include new OEM copper washers. The washers are used for the oil reservoir drain plug and are supposed to be replaced during every oil change. While it's very possible to reuse the same washer over and over (mine is on its 4th year), it's best to replace them. If the drain plug is over-tightened, the plug can create a small (maybe even imperceptible) imprint on the copper washer. The next time the washer is used, oil can leak through that imprint if it isn't perfectly aligned with the drain. By replacing it, this concern is eliminated.
Next thing to mention is that a couple people have expressed disappointment since the price listed for the Wilwood 2-piece rotors went up. The price increase was due to minimum advertised pricing (MAP) requirements. MAP is common with just about every product, but my price sheets from Wilwood didn't include it. I can still sell them at a slightly lower price than you see on the product page, but I can't list them for that price. If you're interested in a set, shoot me an email and I'll put an order together for you!
Third is that I've changed the 2-year maintenance packages to include three bottles of Motul DOT 5.1 brake fluid instead of Motul RBF600. I did this for a couple reasons. Having three bottles allows a much more comprehensive flush of the brake system, as well as the clutch line (which I highly recommend doing at the same time as the brakes). The change in fluids is because the DOT 5.1 is a perfectly capable fluid for most drivers. The RBF600 fluid is more expensive and is overkill for most people, so I decided it isn't necessary for a standard maintenance package. If you need RBF600, let me know and I'll create your order with the upgraded fluid.
I've also updated product listings with OEM part numbers. I did this for the sake of clarity and to help you understand exactly what you're buying. The OEM part numbers are for those same parts you're buying – when I list something as OEM, it means it comes from Aston Martin themselves.
Last is that I've added some shipping for international customers. It's limited but hopefully it works - if you're not in the US and are having trouble with an order, please let me know! Honestly, the website platform I'm using is great for a lot of things, but it's critical flaw is lack of PayPal integration and almost no support for international shipping quotes. I'm working on a proper solution but in the meantime I've built a work-around for some of these issues. (Related side note: I had my PayPal set up for my Rich@Redpants.LOL email account and could receive money, but couldn't send it. I sent in some trouble tickets asking for help, and PayPal emailed me at my Redpants.LOL email address to tell me that my Redpants.LOL email address wasn't a valid email address.... so... yeah. Until they get that sorted out, I'm using my social media email for PayPal, so please don't think they're something sketchy going on when you send a PayPal payment to a Hotmail account!)
Speaking of parts and products...
If I use a replacement for an OEM part, I'll say it isn't OEM. When I use non-OEM parts, they're parts that I consider to be identical to the originals but that I get from a third party. It's very, very rare that I'll use a non-OEM part for a critical system. I do this with the Jaguar thermostats (which do come from Jaguar) because they're the same part. But things like the 4.3L V8's bypass filter o-rings will continue to be OEM, even if a substitution exists. I do this because I don't believe the few dollar's worth of savings to be worth the risk. I use a non-OEM throttle body o-ring for my DB9 oil change kits because it's an identical item but in a non-critical location. My OEM-or-not choices might seem a bit haphazard, but there's a lot of rational behind them.
I'm a hyper-critical person – not for the sake of criticism, but rather for finding means of improvement. I spend far more time than I care to admit analyzing things and going back and forth with ideas. The bottom line with my decisions is, “Would I recommend it? Would I put my reputation on the line for it?” If that answer isn't a solid YES, I don't do it. That includes everything from designs for my custom parts to listing existing products. I learned early on in the course of my grown-up job (the one that funded this little Redpants startup, and that I still do full time) that reputation is everything. The reality of this website is that I'm just some random guy from the internet. The reason people trust me, both for advice and for supplying parts, is because I've built a reputation for being honest and sincere. Am I wrong? Yep, sometimes. Everyone is. I wouldn't trust someone that considers themselves infallible or gives that impression. What I am is honest, and I'm not going to recommend something for the sake of making a quick buck.
Redpants custom products
The Recaro seating project is still underway but progressing far more slowly than I had planned. I'm hoping to have the prototype fitted this week. The next project I've got planned is retrofitting Garmin navigation systems to my V8 Vantage and to a customer's DB9. The original navigation system was mediocre (and widely panned). The Garmin retrofit will replace the original navigation screen with a current Garmin unit, with the goal of maintaining the open/close function of the original system. The Garmin has lifetime map updates, live traffic, forward and reverse camera integration, and Bluetooth, so it should be a comprehensive update for the older cars.
I'll have that customer's DB9 for a couple months, basically doing a bunch of modifications and prep for his return to the US from overseas, and he's been kind enough to allow me to use the car for some development work. The Garmin retrofit is one part of that, the other main one is developing a DB9 oil catch can kit. The kit will be the same concept as my incredibly-popular V8 Vantage kit – plug and play, non-invasive, completely reversible, easy to maintain, extremely high quality, and a design that looks like it came with the car from the factory. I'll also be using the car to create DB9-specific DIY guides and videos. (It's about time to branch out from the V8 Vantage, isn't it?)
Accident repairs are almost done
Those of you that follow my YouTube channel (by the way, a huge 'thank you' to my subscribers!) will have seen that I was in an accident a couple months ago. Long story short, a drunk driver swerved in front of my car and slammed on her brakes. I reacted quickly enough that I barely tapped her, but it still did a wee bit of damage to my car. She got out, looked at my car, then fled the scene. Luckily, my passenger had the foresight to snap a picture of the drunk driver's license plate. I took the opportunity to change out a few things on my car, and I've been documenting a bit of the work along the way. My car should be finished this week – well, it better be, I have a photoshoot next weekend. At least the silver lining for my car being out of commission for a couple months during the summer is that it'll return better than ever, and it gave me the chance to do a lot of documentation for the front end of a V8 Vantage.
Last thing: Thank you!
I also want to say thank you to the people that have emailed me since starting Redpants – the compliments, the encouragement, and the stories of getting things done has been amazing and kept me motivated to keep going. Yep, I'm making a few bucks from my online store, but it really isn't much and the money definitely isn't enough to warrant the massive amount of work that goes into Redpants. Knowing that I'm helping so many people, however, is pretty fucking awesome. So thanks for the ongoing encouragement, it really is appreciated!