So if you've been following these Laser blog postings at all, you might notice that there's a very small increase in the milage on the car since February. Sometime a few months back, we started having yet more transfer case issues: specifically, the yoke was leaking. We went a few rounds with the JBWeld, and finally got that sealed up. However, in my infinite wisdom, I decided to swap on the 2g downpipe that I had lying around from my car, to give the Laser a bit more go, thinking that the cat that had been modified to fit my old catback would mate up just fine to the stock exhaust on the Laser. Wrong. After going a few rounds with trying to weld up a new flange to the stock catback, I finally gave up and we ordered a shiny new 3" Megan Racing catback off of eBay, and picked up a new VRS catalytic converter from DSMotorsport.
A few installation notes: first, the Megan catback only came with gaskets for assembly, not for installation (apparently, you get the gasket for mating to the cat-eliminator downpipe they sell when you buy the downpipe), and the VRS cat was missing the promised gaskets as well. DSMotorsport sent out a couple to replace the missing ones in record time, kudos to them. Next, if you're planning on mating an RNR downpipe for a 2g to a VRS cat, be prepared to drill a couple of extra holes in the exit flange; RNR used a much larger flange, which actually worked out pretty well, because the downpipe could still be mounted on a 2g now. Finally, the tip of the Megan catback sits very close to the rear bumper cover; we're considering getting some longer rear exhaust hangars, since large bumps seem to give it a pretty decent rattle. (Actually getting around to installing the rear shocks would probably help too, or installing polyeurethane exhaust hangars instead of the 100,000 mile 13-year-old stock hangars.)
The catback came with an insert to reduce the noise, and it works like a champ; with the insert in place, the car sounds like stock. Take it out, and it's a typical fairly loud 3" DSM exhaust. Overall, fitment was just about perfect, the welds looked good, and there's only one bend in the entire thing. I'm pretty happy with it so far.
One final difference seen, as a side note: the car is currently running 17psi of boost, which has always meant it spiked to 20psi, then quickly settled back down to 17psi and stayed there. Since adding the exhaust, it's not nearly as stable as it used to be; we'll initially spike to 20psi, drop down to 17, then fluctuate the remainder of the pull between 17 and 20 psi. No significant creep, but definitely the early signs of it setting in. After seeing what a difference a new wastegate actuator made on a friend's car, I'm suspecting that flutter is likely due to a weak OEM spring coupled with 13 years of duty, but it's really not a problem right now, so I'm leaving it as a mental note to look into later.