Category Archives: me

A History of Motorization

Here is a list of anything motorized I have own:

Homemade Minibike – Tecumseh X-HP engine – ~$250.00

When we moved from the city to the country, my parents promised me a dirt bike to sweeten the deal.  The dirt bike actually turned into a minibike once we realized how much dirt bikes actually cost. We found a used one in the WantAD press and I vividly remember going to pick up the minibike. It was a bright and sunny day and I was so excited. The minibike was pretty cool. It was white and had fat stubby tires. The braking system was suspect as it was just a piece of metal that rubbed against the tire. Needless to say, it didn’t always stop when you wanted it to, especially when the tires were wet. Unfortunately, slapping a lawn mower engine on a frame is not very sound. I would say that at least once a week it would break down: new points, new condenser, new flywheel, clutch, gas tank leak, frame cracked, broken starter rope to name a few. The good part is that I learned small engine repair and was able to fix most things myself. Because of the poor experience with the minibike, I convinced my parents to buy me a…

1983 Honda 185S ATV – ~$900.00

Now this was a machine! I must have nagged my parents for a year straight to get an ATV. Of course, they were dangerous and kids were dying when they flipped over onto themselves. Personally, I must have had it flip on my at least once a day. I guess the reason I never got hurt was just dumb luck. I remember doing jumps and landing on an endo in 3rd gear, flipping backwards down a 20 foot hill, getting stuck in the lake, jumping it into the lake.

Honda 185S ATV

Maybe that’s why later in life I have purchased more than a half a dozen Hondas. This beast would never break down no matter how much I abused it. The only major issue I had was when the valve clip broke and the head had to be rebuilt. Fortunately, after leaving the parts strewn apart my garage for months, I got the entire engine back together and it started on the first pull. Absolutely amazing.

1987 Motomarina Sebring Moped ~1000.00

In NJ you had to be 17 to drive a car, but only 15 to drive a moped. A moped was classified as a two wheeled vehicle that had pedals and whose engine no larger than 49cc or 2hp. I forget exactly how I got my Dad to buy me one on my birthday, but I believe my Mom guilted him into it. Unfortunately, I had issues with it the first few days because the head was warped. I remember the dealer saying that it “sometimes happens”, which I thought was ridiculous. Besides the warped head issue, it ran pretty well. It only got up to a top speed of about 29MPH though. If you tried to go faster, like down a hill, you would definitely foul the spark plug. No worries because the little tool kit that was included with the moped had a spark plug wrench and wire cleaner. Cleaning the spark plug was just about an every day thing.

Motamarina Moped

I had the moped for the two years until I get my regular driver’s license and it was great. I remember planning a trip to hobby store that was 30 miles away. While it doesn’t seem that far now, I remember planning if I would have enough gas and what back roads to get there. What a sense of freedom. Another fond memory was getting pulled over by the police. I was all legit though. I had an official driver’s license [I had to do two figure eights without using my feet to pass the exam, no joke], real insurance [85 bucks a year!] and it was registered. When I got pulled over, the cops didn’t really know what to do so they just told me to stay out of trouble. I guess moped registration was not on the police test.

198X Mazda GLC ~450.00

Technically, this was my first car, although I never actually drove it. My dad, kinda of a fix-er-up type of guy, promised my Mom that he would get me my first car. Unfortunately, it was from a junk yard and beat up pretty badly. I actually didn’t mind the car, but my Mom was really upset that my first car would be a junker. I soon traded it in for…

1981 Toyota Corolla ~2100.00

Toyota Corolla

This was the 2dr coupe version. It was red and had a black interior. I guess my Dad felt bad about the Mazda ordeal, so he promised me to get a new radio for it. We went down to Bleeker Street in NYC and I got a Blaupunk cassette/radio deck for it with Benzi box. I never even heard of the Blaupunk brand before, but it sure looked cool.

Thankfully the top speed of the car was about 75MPH otherwise I would have gotten pulled over a lot more than I did. Another good thing was that I played basketball with all the cops so when they pulled me over, they would say “you look familiar” and then let me off with a warning. I was actually a good driver and didn’t speed excessively. I just always seemed to get caught doing 40MPH in a 25MPH speed trap.

A couple of found memories were pulling the e-brake in the Space Farms parking lot and slamming the wheel into a concrete barrier, which bent the axle, which then later broke. No problem as there were plenty of cheap parts at the salvage yard. I also tricked it out with a pair of yellow fog lights. For some reason, I would let random girls drive the car, which ultimately would break off the fog lights. A prelude [no pun] to things to come.

I was able to learn more about fixing cars as well by rebuilding the head and retiming the engine. I’m not sure exactly how it broke, but it involved replacing a lot gaskets, and resetting all the valves.

At one point in college I was wearing Fahrenheit cologne and a bottle of it broke in the back seat. The car REEKED for months. TO this day if I smell that cologne, I think of my old corolla.

SO how the car ended its life is one of those infamous college stories that my friends have never let me live down. To put it bluntly, my girlfriend wrecked it and then broke up with me a few months later. Oh well. Good car, stupid me.

1986 Honda Prelude EX – ~6500.00

So when I got my first full time job working for the University I decided to buy a car. I remember my friend Steve, who was working at a car dealership, helped me haggle with the Honda sales guy. To be honest, I don’t think he budged on the price. I got my Dad to pay for the $1500 down payment and I paid the rest by taking out a $5000 loan from the school’s credit union. I believe between my car payment and insurance, it was half my paycheck.

Honda Prelude

It was worth every penny though. This was one sweet ride. I have the greatest memories of driving that car with the music blaring, windows down and sunroof open. It was also a 5 speed which made it so much fun to drive; I wish I still had it. Actually, I kinda do still have it. Years later I had given it to my Dad because he offered to fix the rusted out exhaust. Unfortunately, he never fixed it and it lays in his backyard, rusting away to this very day. I would ask him to get the baseball mitt out of the trunk, but he also lost the keys to it!

One 90’s thing I did to it was I added a Viper alarm that talked. If you got too close to the car it would say “Protected by Viper stand back”. And when you armed it, it would say “Viper Armed!”. MEGA MEGA awesome.

1996 Nissan Pathfinder EX – 379.99 a month Lease

My first new car/truck that I leased with my newly married bride, Toni. We got a great deal on the lease. No money down, 15k miles a year for 379 month. The first quote the dealer gave us was 480 something and we threatened to walk out. He dropped it a hundred bucks in a heartbeat. Cool and scary. Another great truck. It was forest green with grey leather. I loved washing it in the weekend, which was a big deal back before kids. I even took it offroad a few times, but it absolutely killed the shocks and springs. When we gave it back after the lease was over they charged us 500 bucks for wear and tear due to a ding, but that was ok since the CD player was broke, muffler rusted practically off and the 4wd stopped working. This was the first and last car we would lease. Leasing is just not for me and is just a waste of money in the long run.

2000 Honda Civic EX Coupe ~16k

I think the reason I bought this car was to relive some of the great experiences I had with my 86 Prelude. Unfortunately, driving a stick in the daily grid of going to work is a lot different than driving to a party in college. It was a nice car, but I think after driving the luxurious Pathfinder, I was not feeling the cloth seats and loud ride. It also made the worst rattle in the window. One cool thing is that I bought this car entirely online. I negotiated the price online and simply had to go to the dealer, sign the contract and drive away.

2001 Honda Accord V6 Coupe w/Leather – ~25k

We actually went to the dealer to buy a CRV for my wife and I decided to trade in my year old Civic for the Accord. I got the V6 2 door coupe with black exterior and black leather interior. I also got the rear spoiler, which the dealer threw in for free. A really great car and the only problem I had with it was that the ABS sensor would fail.

2001 Honda CRV – ~25k

This was for the wife, but unfortunately I made the same mistake with the CRV as I did with the Civic. This car was just too tinny and the seats were really uncomfortable.

2004 Honda Pilot EX-L RES – ~35k

A replacement for the CRV and had a similar feel to our old Pathfinder. We got the DVD option and the kids love it. A great car and we still have it for 2 more years. At this point, I would trade it in for a new one in a heartbeat. There is nothing on the market close to the quality [Don’t even say Explorer]

2006 Acura TL w/Nav – ~35k

2006 Acura TL

I had thought I had another year left on my Accord loan, but to my surprise, in December I got a letter with the deed to my car. Of course my initial plan was to keep the Accord for at least another year and enjoy no loan payments. Unfortunately a few weeks later I was browsed over to the Acura site and they had 4.9% financing on TLs. Two days later I was driving the TL.

I kept this car for almost six years and it was still mint when I traded it in.

2009 Honda Pilot EX-L RES ~32k
If it’s broke don’t fix it, but do replace it! After 100k miles on our ’04 Pilot it was time to look for something new. Even though the car was in good condition, I couldn’t deal with service issues.

2012 Toyota Prius Plug In ~30k
100mpg? Plug in for free with rebates? I’m in.

2016 Honda Pilot Touring ~42k
Our 3rd Honda

Miele CVA615 In Wall Coffee System Review

Update 6/14/2021:  About 23,849 cups brewed.  Machine was descaled but seemed to get stuck in RINSING MACHINE mode.  The fix is to hold down large coffee + small coffee + hot water and turn the machine ON.  This will bring up the menu.  Scroll down to Descaling.  Click enter and that will switch it OFF and out of DESCALE mode.

ALSO, after descaling, it was still getting stuck in EXPEL AIR messages and the hot water and steam barely worked.  I ordered the same pump as below, replaced it and it’s working fine again.  The first pump made it 18k cups but the second only lasted about 5.5k cups.  At least it’s an easy fix and the pump is only $22 on Amazon and cheaper than the first time time I purchased a pump in 2018.

Update 9/13/2018:  About 18,000 cups brewed and the machine stopped pushing water out.  It was making a sputtering sound and lots of steam.  I did the typical descale and cleaning cycles but it didn’t help.  Using the service manual, I did the pressure test and it showed there wasn’t any pressure.  I ordered an Ulka Model E Type EX5 water pump on Amazon for $35 dollars and that fixed the problem.  To replace the water pump, you have to take out the coffee machine, remove the top cover (only the top cover) and then you should see the water pump.  Remove the blue and white wires and note which one goes where (blue at bottom).  Also note the sensor that snugly fits above the wires.  I think that some sort of motor sensor (rpms, temp?).   The water pump is secured with two rubber mounts which you can only be removed from a screw at the bottom (impossible to get to).  The way I removed it is popped off the hose on the side closest to the water tank.  I then was able to slip it through the rubber grommet which only left the other side to be freed.  The side with the brass shaft can be unscrewed by holding the solenoid and gently turning the pump.  Once freed, you can replace in the reverse order.  One other issue I had was the hot water stopped working.  I removed the front cover and somehow the brown wire broke in half!  I think all the open/closing of the door caused it to wear.  Simple solder/patch fixed that issue too.

Update 1/3/2016:  One issue I have been having is that behind the brew unit, there is a little cavity that constantly would fill up with coffee sludge.  This is basically where the inside of the coffee machine meets the brew unit.   To clean,  I would get a paper towel and wipe out the water and coffee grinds.  What I didn’t realize until now is that it’s actually suppose to drain down below and ultimately into the drip tray.  Simply get a pipe cleaner or something bendable and at the far left (you can see it), poke around until the water flows freely.  I used a turkey baster to shoot water in which also helped remove the blockage.  Miele doesn’t say to clean this in the maintenance schedule, but I would recommend doing it every time the unit needs a descale.

Update 12/25/2016:  Just a quick update.  13k cups brewed and going strong!  If you are in need of parts, the Saeco Vienna Plus shares the same parts as this Miele CVA615.  Here is a detailed parts diagram and an online place to buy parts.  Additional part diagrams.  Just be careful and try to match it up with the original Miele part.

Update 11/19/2014:  We are over 10,000 brewed cups and some “brewunit block” issues have been coming up.  Before you panic, do the descaling and rinsing maintenance and then thoroughly clean and lubricate the brew unit.  I believe a sign the brew unit needs maintenance is when it does the System Test and you can hear the motor strain.  I’m still having issues with water leaking behind the brew unit (ultimately into the drip pan) I might buy a new boiler valve and replace it.  The Miele parts are shared with the Saeco Vienna which you can find online.

Update 5/7/2011: After about 4000 brewed cups we started noticing that the well behind the brew unit was filling up with water [which is normal], but there were grinds everywhere. To fix it, you should make sure you run the descale process and the rising cycle. The rising cycle is key in removing any oils that have built up in the brew unit. Additionally, replace the boiler valve o-rings per your owners manual. I had to replace the brew unit o-ring [called #4] as well. I ordered it from Miele for about 15 bucks and it’s part number: 5049900 I also found the service manual online so posting it here as well: Miele Service Manual [6mb]

I just noticed the Miele CVA 4075 model features a plumbed-in water connection. Don’t you hate it when they improve products after you purchase them?

Our system is still working great and we have had zero problems. We’re up to 518 cups. The only issue I have had is that someone, who shall rename nameless, was not emptying the grinds when the water was refilled and there was a slight overflow problem.


We recently redesigned our kitchen and we thought a coffee center would be a cool addition. There really isn’t a lot of choices in wall mount units so it was either the Miele system that used coffee beans or pods. I didn’t like the idea of pods since they are more expensive and would have to be special ordered. The CVA 615 system I decided on uses regular coffee beans that you can find anywhere.

Miele CVA 615 Coffee System
For all images, click for larger image

We had our Miele installed in the middle of the wall by our pantry. We also had a custom draw built to go under the unit to hold coffee cups, tea bags, sugar, etc. The idea was a coffee station.

Mounted in wall Draw Open

To be honest, I’m not a coffee aficionado. I probably couldn’t taste the difference between a hot cup of fresh coffee from 7-11 vs. Starbucks. Ironically, I mainly like to drink tea that I steep myself. A lot of the tea I use recommends steeping at 212 degrees F. From doing a test, it looks like the max temperature the hot water is about 160 degrees F.

Hot water temp reading

The water definitely comes out hot, but not boiling. I made tea quite a few times and really didn’t notice the lower temperature so it works fine for me. If I had to, I guess I could microwave it for another 30 seconds, but that kind of defeats the purpose. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a way to adjust how hot the water comes out.

For coffee, there are a few temperature adjustments. To be specific, there are 5. At the “medium” setting, the coffee comes out at around 175 degrees F. I couldn’t imagine any hotter than that, but coffee gurus would know more than I as temperature affects the crema.

Coffee temp reading

As you can see, the coffee comes up with a nice froth and crema on top. I think it tastes great and that seems to be the consensus of everyone else that has tried it. Of course, once you see it working, it’s hard to believe the coffee wouldn’t taste great. I’m really happy with the unit so far and hope it gives me many years of trouble free coffee.

I don’t know of any other reviews of this unit on the web so if you have specific questions, leave a comment and Ill try to answer.