Thursday, December 5, 2013

Ryan Tedder Acquires Modern-Minded Micro-Compound in Venice

BUYER: Ryan Tedder
PRICE: $2,850,000
SIZE: 3,551 square feet, 5 bedrooms, 5 full and 2 half bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: We recently received a covert communique from a wise and well-informed little birdie we'll call Polly Wannacracker who snitched to Your Mama that Grammy-winning singer/songwriter/producer Ryan Tedder and his college sweetheart wife, Genevieve, quietly shelled out $2.85 million for a newly built and modern-minded micro-compound the geographic heart of Venice, CA, just off the spendy and trendy shopping and dining strip along Abbott Kinney north of Venice Boulevard.

Mister Tedder, as we were informed by Miss Wannacracker, fronts OneRepublic, a multi-platinum pop rock band that's had a couple of radio-friendly hit ditties including 2007's Apologize. However and agueably, the 34-year old Oral Roberts University graduate is at least, if not more successful and well respected by his professional peers as a songwriter and producer for pop music superstars like Beyoncé, Jennifer Lopez, Natasha Bedingfield, Ellie Goulding, Kelly Clarkson, and Carrie Underwood. Mister Tedder worked with British supernova Adele on her seminal (and sensational) album 21—he co-wrote the ever-so-catchy but humorously cutting ditty Rumour Has Ita collaboration that earned the relatively new father of one a Grammy Award in 2012. It was recently announced in the tabs and trades, we discovered in our cursory research, that Mister Tedder signed on for a no-doubt highly lucrative gig on The Voice as the popular televised singing contest's first in-house songwriter and producer.

Property records and other digitally accessible resources show the newly constructed, two-building micro-compound, a boxy configuration of glass, concrete, steel, and horizontal wood cladding, was designed by sustainability-minded SoCal architect Matthew Royce. We gathered from our perusal and parsing of listing details that the 3,551 square foot, two-story main house has three to four bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms. A architecturally matchy-matchy but fully detached, two-story structure at the extreme rear of the property postage-stamp size urban lot, where it backs up to a slightly grungy alleyway, offers generous additional living space.

A commercial style aluminum and frosted glass front door set under a shallow overhang opens directly into a lofty, multi-purpose living space with high ceilings, exposed structural elements, polished concrete floors (that Your Mama hopes are radiantly heated), modern art-friendly white walls, and floor-to-ceiling glass sliders that slip effortlessly into the walls to create a seamless transition from the house to the landscaped central courtyard that both divides and unites the main house from the back house.

The kitchen has custom walnut cabinetry, a three or four stool center work island snack counter, a full-height pantry and a somewhat unfortunately located adjoining half bathroom. A separate room tucked discreetly beyond the main living area was sparely staged as an office but, due to its private bathroom, is easily converted to a guest or family bedroom.

A floating tread staircase leads to the upper level where the industrial-edged polished concrete floors of the ground floor give way to a much more intimate, luxuriously rustic, and drop-dead dee-voon wide-plank French oak. Each of the comfortably-sized two guest/family bedrooms on the upper floor have direct access to a private bathroom.  The sun-flooded master suite, also on the second floor, has floor-to-ceiling glass panels that slip into the walls and, for all intents and purposes, quickly converts the bedroom into a sea-breezy sleeping porch. There's also a good-sized walk-in closet and the attached bathroom has a glass-enclosed shower stall and an free-standing egg-shaped soaking tub set in front of a floor-to-ceiling frosted glass panel that opens into the wall and exposes a tiny private terrace.

The staircase, which manages to be be both weighty and light at the same time, continues up to a spacious but mostly undeveloped roof terrace (above top, left and right) with wrap around views of jagged roof tops and swaying palm trees.

The aforementioned, detached and self-contained flexi-use structure at the back of the property offers another 1,000 square feet of open-concept space, as per listing details, and is fitted and kitted with more (and still delicious) wide-plank French oak floors; more disappearing walls of glass; a simple but fully-equipped, walnut-cabineted kitchen; a sun-flooded, full-height loft; and 1.5 chic-ly utilitarian poopers, a full one upstairs and a roomy powder room downstairs. The sizable structure would make a pretty sweet guests house, a super-luxe and super-sized—ahem—man cave, a not particularly private rental unit or, as Your Mama imagines more likely with Mister Tedder, a professional quality at-home recording studio.

Mister and Missus Tedder divide their time between Los Angeles and the somewhat unlikely but hardly podunk Rocky Mountain city of Denver, CO, where according to property records and other online resources they own a gated, four-lot mini-estate in a small gated enclave in the affluent Belcaro neighborhood, a state-of-the-art recording studio, and a BBQ joint.

listing photos: Pardee Properties

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Nigerian Magnate Kola Aluko Nabs Another

A freshly finished Italianate mini-compound set behind motorized gates and high hedges on a prime street in the famously rarefied lower Bel Air area of Los Angeles popped up on the open market in June 2012 with a fat but hardly unheard of $29,000,000 price tag. The main villa and its detached guest/pool house—declared an "architectural triumph" in digital marketing materials—were conceived and executed by esteemed if somewhat under-the-radar architect Tim Morrison who—according to this—shares office space with and often works in tandem with also-esteemed West Hollywood-based architect Thomas Proctor.*

The steeply sloped, very vaguely boomerang-shaped and thus somewhat challenging street-to-street parcel encompasses just .7 acres and, depending on where online you look, the mini-compound's overall total square footage is 19,485 or 18,563 spread between a substantial main villa and a three-story detached guest/pool house. Either size it's a whole lotta luxurious interior space wedged onto a tight and lot that also features a couple of loggias, a wee patch of grass or two, and several sizable terraces hemmed by sturdy sturdy sturdy stone balustrades. A decidedly contemporary infinity edged swimming pool was engineered into the hillside over by the guest/pool house and and eight-plus car subterranean garage is decked out with a mosaic tiled car wash area, a deluxe feature we know Hector Q., mobile car washer to L.A.'s rich and famous, can appreciate.

Online listings Your Mama perused indicate there are a total of nine bedrooms and 14 bathrooms on the property. The main villa, a three story, elevator-equipped edifice that proudly opens to canyon and city views, contains three principal guest/family bedrooms on the upper floor plus an exceptionally spacious 2,200 square foot master suite. (F.Y.I. 2,200 square feet is just shy of the average size of an American home, children.) In addition to a separate sitting room and bedroom, the master suite has dual, custom-fitted dressing rooms and a pair of marble-slathered bathrooms, one leaning toward dapper (for him) the other bending more towards elegantly feminine (for her). Three more secondary guest/family bedrooms share the lower, semi-subterranean level with staff quarters, a gym, and a media room. There's an additional bedroom and bathroom in the detached guest/pool house in addition to a poolside living room with fireplace.

The impress-the-guests-style foyer in the main villa has limestone floors, double-height coved ceilings, and a heavy duty staircase that wraps around the room with some the chunkiest carved stone balustrades y'all have ever seen in your damn life. We don't care for the oval islands in the all-white and marble-countered kitchen because they just seem so forced and unnecessary and, although it's purdy to look at from certain angles, we feel uncomfortable with how the negative edge pool and the stone balustrades the flank it seem to want to scratch each other's eyes out. Also, unless it's the garage, Your Mama is baffled to the point of flabbergast by the vast, stone tile floored, and depressingly low-ceilinged lower level that looks like it could be a ballroom for hire at a Best Western in Minot, ND, but, other wise, in the hands of a talented and/or nice-gay or lady decorator, we think the house and grounds could be pretty spectacular if not exactly in line with our own personal taste. Anyhoodles, poodles...

Property records show the property in question was owned until the late 1990s by philanthropic real estate developer George C. Page who gifted the property to Pepperdine University, a prestigious (and pricey) private school in Malibu, that quickly sold it in July 1999 for $1,160,000 to a fella who quit-claimed it in 2002 to a corporate entity easily tied on the internets to the aforementioned architect Timothy Morrison. Mister Morrison borrowed a whole bunch of money and built the existing, Italian Riviera-ready mini-compound that was sold, according to property records and other online resources, in late October (2013) for $23.5 million. The buyer, according to property records, was an anonymous corporate concern that shields the identity of the owner so we can't say for sure but good ol' Yolanda Yakketyyak, a trusted and well-coifed real estate yenta who runs in high and even higher social circles, swore to Your Mama the buyer was Nigerian energy and aviation tycoon Kola Aluko.

Don't worry, children, if you'd not heard of Mister Aluko. He was, after all, just a year ago named to Forbes Magazine's list of Ten Nigerian Multi-Millionaires You've Never Heard Of. He has, however and to be sure, developed a slightly higher, playboy-ish profile since he's been poppin' up real regular in the property gossip columns for the last year or so and been palling around with Entertainment Industry big shots like Leo DiCaprio, Jay-Z and P. Diddy. So the stories go, the latter two hosted Mister Aluko's star-studded birthday party in Beverly Hills last year. Also raising his pampered, jet-setter profile in the international gossip columns is recent (alleged) association with the drop dead dee-vine if occasionally volatile supermodel and mega-rich man serial dater Naomi Campbell.**

Mister Aluko  may not (yet) be a hardcore real estate baller but, according to Your Mama's admittedly unscientific research and probably not comprehensive findings, the lavish living (and some say shady) Nigerian businessman hardly needs another high-maintenance mansion in Los Angeles. In July (2013) Mister Aluko shelled out $8.62 for a four bedroom duplex condo in a fine and full service if not exactly A-Grade pre-war building on Fifth Avenue in New York City and last year he allegedly spent just over $40 million to buy two top-of-the-line properties: one a gated, late 1990s French Country-style pile on a swank cul-de-sac just above Sunset Boulevard in Beverly Hills and the other a newly erected and aggressively contemporary situated just a few doors down from the Italianate mini-compound Yolanda swears he just bought. We can't vouch for it—making it just rumor and gossip, of course, but Yolanda also told Your Mama Mister Mister Aluko plans to use his new mini-compound as a guest house for his international business associates.

Clearly, children, Mister Aluko needs another twenty-some million dollar estate in Los Angeles like he needs another $50,000,000 boat like the one he bought a couple months ago and either loaned or leased in September to hip hop/pop power couple Jay-Z and Beyonce. But, if Your Mama has said it once we've said it 47,000 times before: Who, pray tell are we to make heads nor tales of the profligate real estate ways of the ever wealthier, increasingly itchy footed, and astronomically spendy super rich?

*Misters Morrison and Proctor are the folks who did up the Beverly Hills home now owned by Posh Spice and David Beckham as well as the guys who did the fairly recent re-do of a pedigreed—and gorgeous—Spanish Colonial estate in Beverly Hills that was formerly owned by actor James Colburn and later the Sultan of Brunei. The Bev Hills estate changed hands a few weeks ago when big business executive Kent Kresa, former chairman of both General Motors and Northrop Grumman, sold it for $27.5 million to—Your Mama heard word through the Platinum Triangle real estate gossip grapevine—a prominent Saudi Arabian multi-billionaire industrialist. Anyways...

**In addition to Mister Aluko, Miz Campbell has over the years been squired by an international crop of multi-millionaires, billionaires, and near billionaire who include: Italian Flavio Briatore; American Sean Puffy Diddy Daddy Combs; Brazilian Marco Elias; and, most recently, hunky Russian real estate baller Vladimir Doronin.

listing photos: Rodeo Realty

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

DJ Avicii Buys Bruno Mascolo's House in the Hollywood Hills

SELLER: Bruno Mascolo
BUYER: Tim Bergling, a.k.a. Avicii
LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA
PRICE: Unknown
SIZE: 7,007 square feet, 6 bedrooms, 7 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: In case any of the children haven't yet heard, DJs—the kind that do their thing in thumping mega-clubs and not the kind on the radio—are the this generation's rock stars and, as modern day rock stars, they earn rock star-sized incomes. Take, for instance, Sweden-born DJ Tim Bergling, a two-time Grammy-nominee known professionally as Avicii. For the last couple of years the dance genre DJ was ranked at number three on DJ Mag's Top 100 DJs list and the Forbes folk recently ranked the toe-headed 23 year old remix master and record producer as the sixth highest earning DJ in 2012 with a haul of around $20,000,000.*

By Your Mama's quick and elementary calculations on our bejeweled abacus, Mister Avicii earns almost $55,000 per day. That's $55,000 every day of the damn year, children. So, though he may be just a young laddie of 23 or 24 years old, he can well afford to pay—as we were first told by Our Fairy Godmother in the Hollywood Hills he did—an (as yet) unknown number of millions of dollars for an ultra-modern mansion in the much-coveted Bird Streets 'hood above L.A.'s Sunset Strip that was last listed on the open market with an asking price of $15,750,000.

The residence in question was owned, as per property records and previous reports, by hair care and beauty business bigwig Bruno Mascolo, the head of the U.S. division of the international Toni & Guy hair cutting empire and the former co-owner to the TiGIi Linea haircare conglomerate that was acquired by Unilever in early 2009 for nearly $412 million. As far as the property record data bases and other online resources that Your Mama peeped are concerned, Mister Mascolo paid exactly $10,000,000 for the highly libidinous, sharp-elbowed, and bi-winged contemporary in February 2009 and had it on the open market at a couple of different prices since the summer of 2012.

Our research shows the two-story residence was designed by modern-minded SoCal architect Paul McLean and built on spec as a collaboration between L.A.-based property developer Brad Kuish and nice-gay interior designer Ryan Brown. Older listings still available on the internets show the house has five bedrooms and seven bathrooms in just over 6,500 square feet while more current digital marketing materials show there are six bedrooms and seven bathrooms in 7,007 square feet of proudly sleek and decidedly aspirational interior spaces defined by soaring ceilings, extra wide plank wood floors, and vast expanses of floor-to-ceiling windows and Fleetwood sliders that fill at night with a twinkling, multi-colored carpet of lights.

A walled and secured courtyard entrance has both water and fire features that make for a rather dramatic passage to the even more (melo)dramatic main entrance, a glass-walled bridge that spans a vertigo-inducing concrete crevasse over the swimming pool and links the two wings of the H-shaped residence. The bridge/foyer, roomy enough to accommodate a sitting area and/or baby grand piano, opens on the right into an banquet hall-scaled Great Room. At one end there's an Italian-crafted center island kitchen expensively fitted with Euro-style appliances, waterfall counter tops of unknown but most assuredly pricey material, and a convenient, four-seat snack counter. There's also a 300+ bottle temperature-controlled walk-in wine vault, a dining area with built-in buffet and floating shelves, and a sun-drenched family room with fireplace and two towering walls of glass with panoramic city views.

The upper level of the opposite wing contains a study and a spacious but hardly humongous master suite complete with custom-fitted walk-in closet/dressing room and a Thassos marble-lined bathroom with double-wide all-glass shower. Two entire walls of glass in the bedroom slide open to a glass-railed balcony with an all but unobstructed view that sweeps over Los Angeles from downtown to Century City to—on a clear day—the Pacific Ocean more than ten miles away.

A boutique-hotel-y, double-wide staircase (not shown in listing photos) leads down to the one wing of lower level where there are a couple of bedrooms, a glass-walled game room, and a separate media room with state-of-the-art projection system, tiered seating and a built-in wet bar/candy counter. The lower level of the opposite wing contains several more bedrooms and bathrooms plus a four-car attached garage with direct entry to the house.

Lower level rooms look out and/or open on to the central courtyard where there's a spa tucked back into the aforementioned concrete crevasse overlooked by the entry courtyard as well as a 75-foot long, infinity-ended lap lane swimming pool with built-in cantilevered sun bed. The multi-level terraces around the pool provide plenty of room for preening and sunbathing as well as a built-in barbecue station.

Mister Mascolo and his blonde missus, Kyara, also own an ocean front home in the illustrious Colony community in Malibu (CA) that's currently on the open market with a $15.98 million price and—it was snitched to Your Mama by Our Fairy Godmother in the Hollywood Hills—in May (2013) they acquired a gated and privately situated fixer upper on a prominent perch above the Sunset Strip that was once featured on Million Dollar Listing and was purchased, as per property records, for $13.875 million.

*According to Forbes, The highest earning DJ in 2012 was Adam Wiles, a six-foot-five-inch Grammy-winning 29 year old music re-mixologist whose stage name is Calvin Harris and who raked in a mind-bending $46 million last year. Earlier this year (2013) Mister Harris, a native of Scotland, dropped seven million clams on his own Zen-inspired contemporary bachelor pad in the Hollywood Hills.

listing photos: Hilton & Hyland

Sunday, December 1, 2013


If there is one question I get asked frequently by shop owners, technicians, and emails alike is-What scantool should I get? Or, Is this scantool good? Or, I just spent $12k on this scantool and it doesn't do this procedure on this vehicle.

I typically will follow this up with questions of my own. Such as. What manufacturer is the bulk of your work? What functions do you want to do with the scantool? What is your budget?

Without knowing the answers to those questions it is awfully hard to give sound advice. I see many shops that use a $10k scantool like a $99.00 code reader. They would have been better served spending the $9K someplace else in my opinion. Like maybe some training. If that works for you and your shop so be it.

In this age of automotive diagnostics it is nearly impossible to be "loaded for bear" on every manufacturer. Unless, you have deep pockets. Even with that are you using all the capabilities of all your tooling? Lots of aftermarket companies make boastful claims when it comes to coverage and capabilities. Unfortunately, when the tool is in your hand and need to do a function they can fall short at the worst of times. I often say that a good aftermarket tool will have 85% capability on 85% of the vehicle lines. However, that 15% can kill you.

  Here is a small example of aftermarket tooling. Any one of these are a very capable scantool. Being able to read codes/erase, view scan data, graph, and perform bi directional functions on different modules. Some do it better than others. Some are strong on this manufacturer but weaker on others. Again the 85%/85% rule. Some, I have been impressed with and others well not so much. Sometimes it is just easier to break out an aftermarket handheld tool rather than hook up a OE laptop based tool to check data or codes. Time is money. Some aftermarket tools actually graph better/faster than the OE tool for certain manufacturers.

    Here are some OE scantools. These are manufacturer specific tools. Some are handheld and some are PC/Laptop based. The world of OE tooling is a convulated and confusing world. These tools walk the walk. With these tools you should be able to have 100% capability for that manufacturer. Notice, how I said should. They have their hiccups as well. It happens from time to time. Not often though. If you want to do a procedure from start to finish and want to be sure you can do it then OE tooling is for you.
One thing to point out in this photo is the GM Tech2. There is been much chatter about the demise of this tool. Well, it had a recent update and I used it to finish up an ABS control module setup on a 2013 Cadillac CTS just the other day. Granted, there is a PC based version of Tech2 called Tech2Win that could have done the same procedure.

Here is a screen shot from Tech2Win. I still prefer the handheld to the PC based. The point here is don't get rid of your Tech2 and if you do service a lot of GM vehicles a Tech2 is still a smart tooling investment.

You have to ask yourself those three question I posted earlier when choosing scantools. Some tool companies/vendors allow for a "test drive" of tooling. That is always a smart idea take advantage of  if possible. Nothing worse than investing money in a tool that disappoints. A test drive of a week should let you know if that tool is right for you and your shop. Beware, of any tool company that claims that you will never need another scantool.

Another point to remember is comfort. A tool that everyone is intimidated to use will be a tool that sits in your toolbox making you no money. There are plenty of techs throughout the country that are diagnosing issues with vehicles with tooling that many would scoff at. It works for them and they are using that tool to its potential. Many times it is not the tool but the tool wielder. The general publics perception that all you do is plug into the vehicle and the scantool "tells" you what part is bad is grossly exaggerated. The best scantool you have is your brain. Technicians fix vehicles not scantools. Remember that always. 

Friday, November 29, 2013

Annie Lennox Lists in London

SELLER: Annie Lennox
PRICE: £12,000,000
SIZE: 5,131 square feet, 4-5 bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: We have Our Man in London to thank for sniffing out the open market listing for a Grade II listed terrace house just a few short blocks off Portobello Road in London's Notting Hill nabe that's up for sale with an £12,000,000 price tag and owned by pixie-haired synth-pop/New Wave music pioneer and legend Annie Lennox. (Your Mama's rusty but trusty currency conversion contraption shows that the current guide price—that's U.K. real estate speak for listing price—of £12,000,000 equals $19,581,4000 at today's rates.)

Scotland-born Miz Lennox, for those of y'all who weren't around in the early 1980s, was one-half of the duo Eurythmics. In the 1990s Miz Lennox lit out on a successful solo career and, as best as we can tell from our research on the internets, she's got seven BRIT Awards, three Grammys, and both a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for a pop ditty (Into The West) that she co-wrote for The Lord of the Rings. She's also got scads of awards, titles, recognitions for her extensive charity work and international humanitarian efforts.

That Miz Lennox might want to sell her swank house in London isn't such a great surprise since newly wedded rich and/or famous folk often buy a new house to set up home and, in case you missed the gossip glossy reports, 58-year old Miz Lennox recently hitched her love wagon for the third time to Harvard-trained, notably philanthropic, and South Africa-based gynecologist Dr. Mitch Besser.

As far as we can tell, Miz Lennox paid £4.4 million—that's $7,179,830 at today's rates—for the five-floor, Regency terrace house that listing details show was designed by architect and topographical illustrator Thomas Allom and built in 1853.

Online marketing materials (that include a color-coded floor plan) show the double-fronted white stucco residence has 4-5 bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms in 5,131 square feet of interior space that marries original architectural details such as heavy-duty moldings with thoroughly modern fittings and trimmings such as radiant heated floors throughout, a home automation system that controls lighting and a/v equipment, and a camera-equipped security system.

The raised ground floor has impressively high ceilings, espresso-toned wide plank wood floors and elaborate ceiling moldings and window trims. The T-shaped foyer and stair hall open to an unusually spacious powder room, a roomy open-concept center island kitchen/family room, and a separate formal dining room with fireplace, bay window and a fab oval-shaped Eero Saarinen tulip table and chairs with multi-colored cushions.

The lower ground floor—that's U.K.-speak for a basement—comprises a wee bedroom for staff or guests, a closet-lined gym, and a small office. There's also a laundry room, kitchenette and tiny three-quarter bathroom. At least two of the rooms open to sub-street level patios, the larger of which provides convenient exterior access to a quartet of storage vaults under the sidewalk.

The first floor—that's the second floor for all us Americanos—has a trio public rooms: sun room with fancy tile floor, a snug/library with marble-manteled fireplace and a baby grand piano, and a roomy drawing room fireplace and with three sets of transom-topped French doors that open to a slender, wrought iron-railed wrap around balcony.

The master suite occupies the entire second floor with super-sized sitting room, cozy bedroom, and, in between, a commodious bathroom with frosted glass windows for privacy, a sitting area, steam-equipped shower stall, and a sleek, two-person soaking tub set right in the middle of the room. Two more generous, if somewhat oddly shaped bedrooms on the uppermost level share a hall bathroom with double sinks, bathtub and separate shower.

Although private outdoor space is somewhat limited to a couple of small balconies and a not particularly private subterranean wrap around patio on the lower ground floor, Miz Lennox's London' digs offers direct access to the communal (yet private) Stanley Gardens South as well as access to the also communal (and also private) gardens of Ladbroke Square.

Your Mama confesses we're not aware of Miz Lennox owning any other property but we'd be somewhat surprised to learn she didn't and we assume without any intel whatsoever to base our supposition that she and her third new Mister—Dr. Besser—maintain a luxury residence in Cape Town (South Africa).

listing photo and floor plan: Pereds

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Timing is everything

Here we have a 2005 GMC Envoy 4.2 Liter engine. The vehicle is fairly clean and has 112,361 miles on it. The complaint is the MIL Lamp is on and is setting a P0017 code. This code indicates an issue between Crankshaft and Camshaft correlation. The truck runs well and the shop owner was hoping there was a reprogramming that would solve this. A quick check of present calibration and available updated calibrations yielded nothing for this code. Time to roll up the sleeves. First step is to look at the code and more importantly code set criteria. While we are at it check for pertinent TSB's.

Here is the code P0017. I love the code set criteria. A calibrated amount. What is a calibrated amount? Time to dig a bit. I look for TSB's and PI's on the OE site.

I come up with this document. A world of information including the specified calibrated amount as well as a wealth of causes for this code. A little background on these engines. They utilize a camshaft actuator or phaser on the front of the exhaust camshaft that is loaded to a neutral/base position. When the PCM wants to actuate this actuator it duty cycles an oil control solenoid that will in turn feed oil to the actuator and in this case will retard the exhaust camshaft. Basically, this operation takes the place of EGR operation and it also improves overall efficiency. Like all engines that utilize this type of design it is very reliant upon proper oil level, viscosity, and pressure.

Here is the front view of the engine. The oil control solenoid is in the head right by the power steering pump. The camshaft sensor is also on the front of the cylinder head right by the upper radiator hose.

Here is a close up of the oil control solenoid. I see plenty of issues with these. They clog up, the portion inside the head gets clogged up and doesn't allow the oil solenoid to do its job properly. Typically, when this happens the vehicle runs really poor at an idle but runs decent raced up. Think of a vehicle with a stuck open EGR valve. This vehicle runs rather well at an idle. Scantool data is only going to give me a small portion of what I need to know. My play is to scope crank and cam sensors.

Well here is Crank sensor on channel 1 in yellow and Cam sensor on channel 2 in Green. Is it good? Is it bad? I don't know. This is where it is nice to have a known good. It just so happens that there is another similar vehicle on the lot. This vehicle is running fine and is just in for servicing. Lets take a look at that one and see if we can see any differences.
Hmmm. Waveform interpretation can be daunting at times. I usually zero in on one portion. If you look closely at the crank sensor pattern you will notice a double spike. This is the signature portion of the waveform. The PCM uses this signature pulse to determine piston position. I am going to zero in on that portion of the waveform.

  Notice how the first signature starts after the second trailing portion of the short camshaft sensor pulses and the second signature is on the trailing edge of the second long pulse of the camshaft sensor. Lets look at our suspect pattern.

A definitive difference indeed! Looks like the whole crank pattern is shifted to the left or is the camshaft pattern shifted to the right?

Here is a comparison of the two waveforms. At this point I inform the shop owner of my findings. I tell him definitively that he has a true blue issue with correlation. At this point it could be a stretched timing chain, timing chain alignment, an actuator/phaser not returning to base position, an oiling issue inside the head, an oil control solenoid not operating correctly, etc. I ask the shop owner if he wants me to delve deeper. He refuses citing he has to get approval from customer for more diagnostic time. He was really hoping there was a calibration update to solve this. I advised the shop owner I don't think it is crank endplay or a loose crank bolt. Because I don't see major differences in the amplitude of the crank signal when raced up, etc. Unfortunately, the customer refused more diagnostic time and the vehicle was released. This happens sometimes. What is ironic just last week a buddy of mine called me asking if I had a known good 4.2 liter crank/cam scope pattern that I could send him.

Just a little math here as well. One crankshaft rotation (from signature to signature) took approximately 100ms. That would mean 3.6 degrees per 1ms. The code set was 16.31 degrees which is approximately 4.5ms.  Looking at the bad pattern it is real close to being about 4.5ms out. If memory serves me these cam sprockets have 48 teeth that would yield 15 degrees per tooth. So a tooth out with a little stretch is a possibility here as well.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

David Koepp Lists Manhattan Townhouse

SELLER: David Koepp
LOCATION: New York City, NY
PRICE: $9,900,000
SIZE: 5,000(ish) square feet, 4-5 bedrooms, 3 full and 1 or maybe to half bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: A quick spin through some of the newer property listings in New York City turned up a townhouse on the Upper West Side listed for $9.9 million and owned, as per property records, by David Koepp.*

Mister Koepp's name may not ring your Tinseltown bells but he is, to be sure, an notably tall, bespectacled, and unusually successful screenwriter (and director) of action-oriented blockbuster movies such as Jurrasic Park and its sequel The Lost World: Jurrasic Park, Mission: Impossible, Spider-Man, War of the Worlds, Panic Room, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and Premium Rush. In the mid-Aughts Mister Koepp wrote and executive produced the short-lived network series Hack and, although he briefly backed out of the project in 2012, he penned the upcoming second installment of the Snow White and the Huntsman franchise.

Property records show Mister Koepp and his first wife, artist and occasional actress Rosario Varela, acquired the meticulously maintained and updated 1870s townhouse in January 1999 for $3,250,000. In 2004 Mister Koepp bought out first Missus Koepp and, as far as we know, Mister Koepp remained (and remains) in residence with his second wife, Melissa Thomas.

Current listing details show the urban single family residence, just a few doors off Central Park with interiors by accomplished lady-decorator Fawn Galli, has about 5,000 square feet with 4-5 bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms, two fireplaces, an elevator that serves four of the five floors, a sky-lit laundry room on the top floor, and a multi-level garden.

Floor plans and listing photographs included with digital marketing materials show the raised stoop entry on the parlor floor high ceilings and chevron pattern wood floors. A small vestibule entry links to an over-sized foyer—with butterfly-pattern wallpaper and wall-mounted faux zebra bust—that does double duty as a formal dining room. A small study off the entry vestibule overlooks the sparsely tree-lined street and could be pressed into use as a bedroom if necessary and/or desired. At the rear of the parlor floor the formal living room opens through multi-paned doors to a small balcony with corkscrew staircase that winds down to the garden two floors below.

The ground floor comprises a floor-through, loft-like space with top-quality kitchen with marble counter tops and an adjoining mud room street entrance, a casual dining area, and a roomy family room that, like the formal living room directly above it, also opens to a small balcony that connects via exterior corkscrew staircase to the garden. Although listing details indicate there's a powder room on the ground floor, as far as these boozy-woozy eyeballs can tell from a thorough perusal of the floor plan, there isn't a bathroom on this level so anyone with a need to evacuate must ascend to the vermilion-walled powder room just off the formal dining room or descend to the (English) basement where there's a windowless three-quarter pooper along. Also down in the garden level basement are a large storage room, a small sitting area and a fireplace-equipped media room with built-in entertainment center and direct garden access.

The good-sized garden view master bedroom on the second floor has a dressing room lined with closets and a Jack 'n' Jill type bathroom that is—regretably—shared with the a second, street-facing bedroom. Two more generously proportioned bedrooms on the uppermost floor share a hall bathroom with separate tub and shower.

Property records how Mister Koepp still owns another apartment in modern building on Columbus Avenue that he picked up in August 2002 for $1,575,000 and in March (2011) he and his second missus shelled out $3.85 million for a land-locked mini-estate in the low-key but hideously expensive Hamptons community of Amagansett, NY.

*Mister Koepp's surname, in case any of you want to know, is pronounced kepp.

listing photos and floor plan: Douglas Elliman

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

John Fogerty Buys Hidden Valley Estate

BUYER: John Fogarty
LOCATION: Thousand Oaks, CA
PRICE: $8,950,000
SIZE: 13,053 square feet, 7 bedrooms, 7.5 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Late yesterday afternoon, deep into our second top-shelf gin & tonic (extra lime, please) Your Mama heard word from tireless real estate yenta Yolanda Yakketyyak that guitar legend and veteran rock 'n' roll VIP John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival fame and fortune, dropped $8,950,000 on a spacious estate in Thousand Oaks, CA, a sprawling and affluent community about 20 miles over the Santa Monica Mountains to the tip of Point Dume in Malibu and just about equidistant between downtown L.A. and Santa Barbara.

Property records show the 20+ acre Thousand Oaks estate was acquired in May (2013) with the very same somewhat oddly-named trust that owns the 13,476 square foot, faux-Tuscan mansion on three gated and landscaped acres in Beverly Hills (Post Office) that Mister Fogerty and his Missus, Julie, had on the market as a whisper listing over the summer (2013) with an asking price of $23.5 million.*

The roomy estate—it looks like the sort of place that would have been given a name, doesn't it?—sits amid an impressive group of similarly sized estates in a small, gated enclave in the Hidden Valley area of Thousand Oaks, the same swanky and bucolic locale where Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi DeGeneres sold their 26-acre horse-oriented compound for nearly $11 million to luxury t-shirt tycoon (and budding real estate baller) James Perse. Listing information described the Fogerty's Thousand Oaks spread as a "Rustic Mediterranean Estate" but we're not exactly sure what's rustic about this extensive estate other than the rolling mountains that surround the otherwise manicured grounds that include vast amoebic swathes of well watered lawn.

The mostly one-level H-shaped residence** was designed, as per digital marketing materials, by North Hollywood-based architect and Mediterranean macmansion specialist Ron Firestone and completed, as per property records we peeped, in 2004. There are seven bedrooms—one more queenly than the next—and 7.5 bathrooms—one more ebulliently garnished that the last—in 13,053 square feet of interior space outfitted, as per listing details, with pecan floors, wood-beamed ceilings, five fireplaces, a 500-bottle wine closet, and remote-controlled window shades and lighting system.

Other features of note include: an irrigation system with a private water well and a 22,000 gallon cistern; a 12-car garage—the seller had a portion of it set up as an—uh—man cave; a salt water swimming pool and spa and a nearby cabana with pool equipment and bathroom. There are at least a couple fountains and at least one of those pergola-folly things fashioned from a domed, wrought iron cap placed carefully atop classical carved stone columns.

To be honest, children, Your Mama does not even have the will power to (dis and/or) discuss this house, either its faux-Old World and liberally pastiched architectural bones or all its baronial decorative opulence and festooned frippery. We are absolutely certain that all the heavily pasamenteried drapery and all the carved and tassled furniture, the tapestries, and bedazzled accessories cost an absolute fortune and we also understand that different people have different visions and versions of what constitutes luxury, good taste, and regal comfort. But, children, the obsessively ornamented day-core seen in the listing photographs of this house just makes Your Mama feel like we need a damn nerve pill. We just feel like, big as the damn place is, we'd suffocate in a house like that. So, rather than go through the torture of a (too) long and over-detailed, pre-holiday hoozy-goozy of a discussion of the house and property, let's let y'all ponder on and opine about the not entirely tongue-in-cheek listing copy Yolanda Yakketyyak wrote for the property:

Have you been wanting a house that speaks to you on an emotional, not simply architectural level?

A house that single-handedly defines America yet deftly blends our diverse cultural heritage into every block and beam? 

A house with an awe-inspiring Feng Shui-ed layout that single-handedly provides you with the courage and the tenacity to take the reigns of your destiny and step out from the shadow of darkness that blankets our generation?

Your prayers have been answered.


Anyways, in addition to their old digs in Beverly Hills (that they would like to sell) and their palatial new piece of the property pie in Thousand Oaks Mister and Missus Fogerty also still own a much more modest, 1,890 square foot house on a twisting, celebrity-lined street in the Beverly Hills Post Office area that they picked up in November 2008 for $1,385,000.

*The Fogerty's Bev Hills mansion, which they appear to have custom built on land they acquired in 2002 for $2.9 million, no longer appears on The Agency's website but, as far as Your Mama can tell, the property has not been sold. Make of that what you will.

**Listing details describe the house as "single level living except" for the "hundreds of feet of storage plus storage facility on the third level under the main floor area" and the "upstairs granny flat or media room that might also be suitable for a live-in domestic or an underachieving adult child.

listing photos: Shawn Cordon for Keller Williams

Monday, November 25, 2013

Did Angie Jolie Buy Fiancée Brad P. A Private Island?

International property gossips have gone hog wild over the rumors and reports (and reports of rumors) that Oscar-nominated actress Angelina Jolie bought her über-famous fiancée, Brad Pitt, a private island on small and scenic Lake Mahopac (NY) with a Frank Lloyd Wright pedigree. So the stories go, the hands on super mommy of six and globe-trotting do-gooder shelled out somewhere in the neighborhood of £12.2 million for the 11-ish acre island, an amount that Your Mama's handy-dandy currently conversion contraption indicates amounts to 19,790,600 U.S. dollars, at today's rates.*

However, the daughter of the current owner says all the hullabaloo just ain't true. In fact, the daughter told a local reporter that, as far as she knows, neither Angelina Jolie nor Brad Pitt have ever visited the island. And—let's get real, children—if Angelina Jolie and/or Brad Pitt and/or any of their representatives visited your parents' $20 million private island, don't you think they might have mentioned it?

Petra Island—sometimes Petre Island, is about 50 miles or 15 minutes by helicopter from Midtown Manhattan and is currently owned by retired local sheet metal contract Joseph Massaro who acquired the heart-shaped islet in 1996 for $700,000. At the time of Mister Massaro's purchase the island had only a (rather intriguing) 1,200 square foot cottage (above) designed and built in 1950 by legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright for the island's previous owner, an engineer named A.K. Chahroudi. Mister Lloyd Wright had also designed a much larger, approximately 5,000 square foot main residence for Mister Chahroudi but the plans went unfinished and was the residence realized as Mister Chahroudi wasn't prepared to spend the $50,000 Mister Lloyd Wright estimated for construction.

As part of his 1996 purchase of the island Mister Massarro received Mister Lloyd Wright's renderings and floor plans for the unrealized main residence and subsequently hired architect and Frank Lloyd Wright historian Thomas A. Heinz to complete and execute the unfinished design.

The resulting residence, an angled and muscular mix of concrete, wood, stone and glass was completed in 2008. The result—at least to those not attuned to the nuances of FLW's signature architectural contrivances and conventions—appears much in line with a FLW-designed house: There are wrap-around and cantilevered decks galore; half a dozen monolithic fireplaces, both indoors and out; large if awkwardly shaped public space, not always seamlessly incorporated topography (i.e. boulders); and a ceiling of interlocking triangular skylights; long rows of mahogany-framed glass doors that allow for a smooth integration between indoor and outdoor spaces.

The existing house is not without its critics who scream and stomp their feet that the design is not pure and does not hew closely enough to Frank Lloyd Wright's original intentions and/or architectural conventions. Indeed, to date the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation has not certified the house as a Frank Lloyd Wright design, a snub that has long infuriated the current owner who is, technically, only supposed to refer or market the main residence as "inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright."

Whether Miz Jolie and Mister Pitt bought Petra Island—and it appears they did not—they still maintain an international collection of residences that include (but may not be limited to) a multi-residence compound in Los Angeles's Los Feliz area, an oceanfront compound near Santa Barbara (CA), an historic mansion in New Orleans (LA), a rustic spread in Cambodia, and Chateau Miraval, their 1,200-ish acre spread in the Provence region of France.

*Current digital listings for Petra Island don't reveal the asking price but in late 2012 it was widely reported to have a $20,000,000 price tag.

listing photos: Private Islands Online

Snowboarder Shaun White Snags Malibu Mini-Compound

BUYER: Shaun White
SELLER: Mike Fleiss
SIZE: 2,625 square feet, 4 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms (plus outbuildings)
PRICE: $8,940,000

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Your Mama hears from our already holiday merry-making celebrity real estate yenta Yolanda Yakettyyak that high income earning 27-year old two-time Olympic gold medal winning professional snowboarder Shaun White—a.k.a. The Flying Tomato—quietly, through a generically-named trust shelled out $8,940,000 in an off-market deal for a bluff-top mini-compound in the Point Dume area of Malibu, CA.

According to property records, the seller of the Pacific Ocean-view spread was Mike Fleiss, a distant cousin of (in)famous former lady-pimp Heidi Fleiss and a bona fide reality television pooh-bah who created the crazy successful (if depressingly vapid) The Bachelor and The Bachelorette programs. The fairly recently divorced Mister Fleiss and his ex-Missus also owned the the two-parcel property house next door to the one they sold to Mister White, which they unloaded in the fall of 2012 for exactly $6,000,000.*

Not for looking but Your Mama wasn't able to locate a recent listing for the Mister White's new compound-style crib in Malibu and, ipso facto, we're not sure what if any improvements Mister (and ex-Missus) Fleiss did or did not make to the walled and gated, one-plus acre property. However, with a leg up from our always helpful Fairy Godmother in Malibu, we did come up with up a rental listing for the property from way back in 2005 that shows the ranch-style residence was built in the early 1950s and, at the time, had four bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms in 2,625 square feet plus a separate one bedroom and one bathroom guest house and a detached, 800 square foot office or recreation room. The bluff-top location allows for sweeping coastline views and a long, booty-busting stairway down the steep bluff provide direct, if not exactly relaxing access to a deep and wide stretch of (public) beach.

Some of Mister White's new Malibu neighbors include Owen Wilson and film and television writer/director/producer Bryan Singer (The Usual Suspects, Dirty Sexy Money, and the X-Men franchise)

It was only last August (2012), some of the children may recall, that word slipped down the celebrity gossip grapevine that the fire-tressed snowboarder dropped $3.85 million on a cliff-top house with direct beach access in Encinitas, CA, but, as it turns out the snowboarder maintains a fairly extensive real estate portfolio.

In addition to a Park City, UT, condo and a couple of ho-hum if hardly inexpensive tract houses near San Diego, in Carlsbad, CA, Mister White owns a contemporary, city-view abode in the Hollywood Hills (above) that bought the house in March 2009 for $1.7 million. Your Mama dug up digital evidence that the snow, sand, and real estate loving daredevil put the house out for lease late last year (2012) with an asking price of $10,000 per month.

*Last October (2012) Mister Fleiss paid $9.3 million for Mel and Robyn Gibson's former estate in the star-stocked Serra Retreat enclave in Malibu.

aerial photo (Malibu): Bing
exterior photo (Encintas): Real Living Lifestyles (via Zillow)
exterior photo (Hollywood Hills): The Partners Trust