Saturday, June 29, 2013

GKtech Knucks on the Drift Machine

Sorry for the long wait on the update.  I've been so busy I hadn't had any time to do this, plus once I finally had the time this past week I was so tired I didn't want to do anything car related until now.  Let's start off with the big news.  My GKtech knuckles finally arrived!  They came in about 3 weeks ago.  I'm not entirely sure what to say about them at the moment so let's just start with something else.  Swapping out my diff for a welded one... Not really much to say here, pulled the old one out, installed new ouput shaft seals on the welded one along with new rtv for the rear cover.  Slapped the welded diff in then put some oil in her.

Well, now that I got that out of the way lets get on with some pics of the knuckles shall we?

Everything appeared to look great!  The machine work looked amazing and so far everything had fit perfectly.  There was only one issue, the back bolt on the spindle which I believe is a retaining bolt for it was loose.  It wasn't even finger tight...

Not a big deal though, a quick message to GKtech was responded to with a quick reply advising of the proper torque specs for themWhich is 120 - 150nm for anyone else who runs into this.

The day I received these on Saturday exactly 2 weeks before Proving Grounds 2013.1.  This I thought was perfect, would provide me with plenty of time to install the knuckles along with several other parts.  I would then have some time to get some practice sessions in and become familiar with the new steering setup...Boy was I wrong about that.

The initial install of the knuckles started of at a great pace.  I had my factory knuckles, tie rods, and coilovers off in no time at all.  From there I then put the knuckles on the ball joint and got the mounted up so I could torque down the back spindle bolt.  For this since I couldn't find an allen socket that size anywhere I came up with an interesting solution.  I found a bolt where the hex head was the same size as what I needed, I then jammed a nut on the bolt and I was able to use that along with a normal socket of the same size to torque it down.

Next up was get the coilovers ready to go on the car.  I grabbed my new pillowball mounts out of my closet and slapped them on the coils.

Good to go I thought.  I got the hat of the coils mounted to the chassis then it was time to mount them on the knuckles.  To do this I needed to decide what inserts I wanted to use on them since the knuckles have insert options with camber adjustments anywhere from -2 to +2 degrees.  I thought first I would start with my surprise the tolerances for either the knuckles or the inserts where off as they would not go into the order to get them to fit I had to shave off material from the inserts... This made me rather upset because one of the reasons I had to wait an extra 2 weeks or so on the knuckles to ship was so they could anodize the inserts...which of course I immediately found myself taking the anodizing off of them...

Not a big deal tho, nothing to get my panties in a bunch about.  Took some material off, slid the insets in, and bolted up the coilovers.  I then found myself a little confused with the arms as they were labeled with LH and RH sides, and the way they were labeled was opposite of what their website, facebook, and pictures showed them as being mounted.  Again, not a big deal, I could care less about what labels on the arms say.

Things were still going well for me at this point.  Knuckles were on, coilovers were repaired, and the remaining parts to go on are super simple to install.

I quickly opened up a box containing my new inner tie rods (Moog brand Maxima tie rods) and then slipped my steering rack spacer rings on them.  I also put on a brand new set of Megan Racing boots!

Next up was to put on the SPL outer tie rods and check to see what sort of angle these knuckles were going to produce!  This is where I ran into my first headache...After putting those on and doing a quick eye ball alignment I tested out the steering...It didn't appear to be zero ackerman at all, on top of that I didn't appear to have gained any angle either, it looked to be the same as my stock arms.  This had me both confused and rather disappointing.  I found myself toying around with them for several hours when it hit me.  The arms had been designed for stock outers which don't have bump steer correction to them.  The SPL's had bump steer correction.  My initial idea for a solution was to simply opt out of the bump steer correction of the outers and move them all the way up.  This appeared to have corrected my ackerman and make it very close to 0... Pleased with that I then set to put my brakes on...

This is when I ran into my first major issue, the brakes hit the arms.  My only option was to flip the arms around and mount them the "wrong" way which I found kind of ironic because that was is how my arms were labeled.

This then threw me for a loop on the alignment settings, however after some experimenting I realized that moving my bump stop adjustment on the outer tie rods to the lowest point on the rod reduced the ackerman and put it at right around 0.  Thank god is all I could say.  With that I then decided to slip the brake rotor back on and check things out... Again another issue...  My rotor hit my LCA dude to the built in 40mm roll center correction.

This put me in a pickle, how to solve this, initially I thought I could simply grind off a little bit of material form the LCA.  I did this and it worked...for the moment...  I saw how little clearance I had then I remembered I was test fitting worn down used rotors.  My car was in need of a brake change, both rotors and bads.  So I went ahead and swapped out my rotors quick.

Several little allen bolts later and the new rotors were swapped out.  Time to test fit and bam... rotor was still hitting the LCA.  I had already taken off more material then I wanted and the amount I would need to take off in order to have the new rotors clear was far too much.  The only solution was to space the rotor out more.  To do this I decided to order a set of 5mm spacers and slip those on the hub before the rotor.

While I waited for the spacers to arrive (2 day shipping) I got to work on swapping out my from wheel bearings for some new NSK bearings.

After having my good friend Brett press those in the hubs I then proceeded with taking them apart and re greasing them with some much better quality wheel bearing grease.

Unfortunately due to grease all over my hands from doing this I didn't take a picture of the process for taking the bearings apart, or a picture with the new grease on them.  If you're interested in info on this and would like to know and see more check out this MotoIQ post which is where I got my info on this for my car.

Moving on now, while still waiting on the spacers to arrive I decided why not get the hubs put on the car and test out my wheel clearance.  After all I could still mount my wheels without the brakes installed.  Right off the bat trying to slip the wheel on I found this wasn't going to work.  The rod for the outer tie rod was sitting so low it was hitting the wheel before I could mount it.  Thankfully the knuckles have an option for moving the arms upwards which provided me with the needed clearance to mount the wheel.

I then wasable to get the wheel to fit and found some minor clearance issues.  At full lock both ways the tire was hitting in places.  First one being the frame of the car on the lead, and for trailing it was hitting the tension rod.  To take care of this I moved my track out.  I'm not sure on the exact amount, but if I were to guess I would say 2+ inches more then stock.  This provided me clearance on the lead wheel from hitting the frame, the trailing wheel however was still hitting the tension rod.  Before doing anything else I remembered I didn't have my brake rotor on or wheel spacer which would be spacing the wheel out roughly 20mm which looked like it was going to be enough.

After a little wait my spacers for the brakes arrived.

I quickly set off to try them on and found out the inner bore on them was too small and didn't fit over my hubs center bore.  No big deal, nothing a quick stop at the local machine shop cant take care of.

Opened up the center bore a bit and my problem was solved.  I then slipped those on and test fitted the rotors again.  They cleared!

With that good news it was time to put the calipers on.  Now I of course planned ahead for this and ordered 2 extra spacers.  One of which I cut up to make into some rather ghetto fabbed caliper spacers.  I had no choice but to do this because there wasn't enough time to machine up some as Proving Grounds was only a couple days away and I had to have the car ready by Thursday night so I could leave on Friday.

I then tested these out on the knuckles...They didn't work...Turns out I was being dumb and thought the calaper brakets went on the front side of the knuckles, I soon found out they go on the backside of the knuckles...  This was a problem.  Due to the knuckles having bolt on caliper options the bolts are in the way for mounting the brackets.  The machine shop was closed at this point and I absolutely needed to get the brakes figured out that day!  There was still work to do on the car along with work on the Z32...

Thank god for having cool ass friends and their dads also being cool as shit.  I was able to hit up my friends dad who has a mill and got things taken care off.

After taking care of that, things just sort of came together.  Turns out I didn't need to use any spacers on the calipers to be straight with the rotors.  Just had to space them out with a washer.  I have no idea how or why it was like this but oh well.  Shit works so I'm not complaining.

After checking things out I decided it was time to slap the wheels on and do a quick check on the steering clearance...

Shit was weak.  I stood there and looked at my wheel sitting at full lock for a good 20min shaking my head...  I had spent roughly $1,000 on a new steering setup which didn't gain shit for angle.  Looking at it I would guess it was roughly 3-5 degrees more angle on the lead.  Yes the trailing had gained a good chunk but this was just sad.  I thought to myself, "should have just gotten the Powered By Max knuckles for half the cost".

This wasn't the end, I couldn't have this, so in order to achieve more angle I relied on my friend Brett again who had a rather clever way of getting more steering.  I dropped off a pair of inner tie rods at his place and let him do his magic.

While I waited on that to be done I took care of some other things with the car again.  Removed my washer fluid reservoir.

I also went to install my rocker arm stoppers, only to find that there were already some on the car.  Not just that, but they were the exact same ones I had bought.  Oh well, I needed to replace my valve cover gaskets anyway.  Also please don't make fun of how filthy the head is.  I'm not the first owner of this engine and I change my oil regularly so the stains are not from me.

Then to finish things up, I put my new aluminum radiator over flow tank on.

The next day came and Brett had been too busy at work to get my stuff taken care of.  This wasn't a problem at all tho.  I had given him my spare set of inner tie rods so I was able to quickly put the car together so I could put it on the ground.  I figured why waste a day twiddling my thumbs, so I pulled the car out of the garage and brought in the Z32 for some work!

There's a really simple way to add some killer angle for cheap.  Its with a bolt on style rack angle spacer, this one I was able to pick up for right around $40.

How it works is you bolt it on to one side.  The bolt on portion has 3 rack angle spacers built into it, then the other side you slip on an angle spacer ring.  This gives the car a total of 4 angle spacers which adds a lot of angle!

After putting them on, you have to grind down your bump stops A LOT, and re center your steering wheel since the rack will be off centered from the one spacers being larger then the other.  This comes out to pretty good angle!  Pretty damn good for a Z32!

Speaking of the Z32, I should also point out that she's got some new kicks!  Becca bought 6 MB wheels for a killer price, on top of that she also picked up 2 Sumitomo HTR ZIII for the front.

After having that taken care of Brett had finished up my tie rods.  Curious as to what he did?  Simple, just turned down the inside of them to basically make them have a built in rack angle spacers!  I then slipped my slip on rings and I too now had the equivalent of 4 rack angle spacers!

The final results came out as this.  Lead wheel angle

And trailing wheel angle.

This is how close my trailing wheel is to my tension rod...

I don't think there's going to be room for any more trailing angle, lol.  In the end the angle turned out decent.  There's still room for more angle given a few modifications.  I plan on making my own steering arms and LCA Tension rod combo to create more angle.  So stay on the lookout for that!  Also keep yourself posted as I'll have some Proving Grounds 2013.1 coverage on the way too!  With that I'll be reviewing my thoughts on the knuckles performance and you'll get to see some lovely action pics as well!  Until then, here's a preview.