Thursday, August 21, 2014

515 Get Down 5 Car Show!!!

The annual 515 Get Down car show is coming up this weekend!  I'll be helping with the Shiomi Garage booth at the show which should make for a killer good time.  We'll have plenty of cool stuff for people to check out and 5 cool cars.  Both of Travis's S13 will be there, Becca's 510, Lukes freshly painted S13, and my own.  If you're anywhere near Des Moines and looking for something to do this weekend, make sure you come out to this!  It's indoors, and it's free, so you have no excuses not to come!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Camber Caster Plates Tested

Let me just start off with this.  I made a big mistake with these and overlooked a very important factor when it comes to steering.  I'm still learning a lot as I go and I find experimenting and learning from experience works better for me to learn and understand things rather than simply reading about it.  I've come across all sorts of miss leading things while researching that it's gotten to a point where I question a lot of what's out there.  There are a countless number of subjects I've come across where one group of people will say it works one way and another will say it works in an almost opposite manner.  This project in particular is one of those where I had a lot of confusion going on in my head and lacked a lot of understanding on the subject, however now that I've gotten some experience working with it I've been able to learn where I went wrong and what's right.

Now let's get started!  Since there isn't really much to explain when it comes to putting these on (4 bolts for the coilover to plate and 4 bolts for the plates to strut tower) I'll just post some pics of the parts and some comparison photos.

Comparison photos of the Technick Slide vs the Stance USA camber plates.

Lastly two quick comparison photos of them installed.  Ignore that they are on opposite sides of the car, I flipped one of the images to make it look like the same tower so just use your imagination and pretend these are on the same one.

Here's a shot showing the clearance of the strut nut and the shock tower.

Lastly a quick shot from underneath.

Now that those are out of the way let's go over everything I did.

Obviously installed the plates, then did a quick alignment.  After that was all done I checked to see where I was set.  Static camber changed from -5.9 degrees down to just -2.4.  So far so good, checked lead wheel camber which changed from +12.6 degrees to +6.7.  I had done trailing measurements but somehow lost those between then and now so unfortunately I'm not sure what they were.

This was a big change but there was room for much more, I was able to shorten my LCA up some as well as pull my LCA caster back a touch, and lastly change my knuckles camber adjustment from 0 degrees to -4 (gktech knuckles have camber adjustment built into them which allowed me to be able to do this).

The final results came out to almost dead on flat for both lead and trailing.  If I recall correctly my lead wheel came in at only a half degree of positive camber at full lock  Static camber was right around -4.

Here's a quick before/after of the lead wheel.  Pleas ignore that they are from opposite sides of the car, I wasn't thinking about it when I took pics.

Also a picture of the trailing wheels camber.  I don't have a before photo for this one so all I have is the final.

Very excited about this I took the car for a spin and a quick slide session.

This is where it all went wrong, yes they do a great job of getting the wheels flat, but they also completely murder all of the self steering.  Upon initiation of a drift when letting go of the wheel it would simply stay there and cause me to spin.  Even cruising around when turning a corner and letting go of the wheel the car would just keep turning and the wheel would never center.  Now I had always been told your caster is what creates the self steering effect but when I saw how Wisefab was keeping their wheels flat and in all their pics the coilover is basically straight up and down I figured maybe there was more to it than just caster and other factors are what did most of the work.  Unfortunately that was very wrong of me to think...

After making a quick drive home I decided to pull the caster on the LCA as far forward as I could, did another alignment on the toe, and took the car out again.

This time I had regained my self steering effect however it was still kind of sluggish compared to what it had been prior to installing these camber caster plates.  This was enough to show me how caster is one of the primary factors in self steering.  These plates had basically got rid of all my caster which in turn is what lead to killing my self steering.  Sadly I must say these plates are about as good as scrap when paired with OEM style knuckles.

So how does the Wisefab kit do it?  This was something I found myself questioning, clearly they have self steering, but if they move their coilover like these plates do than how come they don't suffer the same issue?

Well here's the answer.  I'll start with a quick drawing comparing a stock knuckle to a wisefab knuckle installed on a car.  The view of the drawing is from the side.

To start let me explain what this drawing shows.  The red line is the "axis of rotation", this line is drawn by connecting the two pivot points (pillow ball and ball joint) then extending the line to the ground. The blue line shows the "vertical axis", which is simply a straight up and down line from where the tire contacts the ground.  These lines are then used to measure the caster trail which is the distance between the two green lines.  When the axis of rotation is in front of the vertical axis it is called positive caster, when the other way around it's called negative caster.  Now I should point out I don't know what a good measurement for it is or what the factory measurement is, that's something I'm still working on trying to learn. So far from what I've figured out there's a lot of personal preference that goes into this since very little will make the steering incredibly sluggish and too much will make it very hard to turn when moving.  On the factory setup moving your caster forward will also increase camber change while turning which could cause incredibly poor use of the tires making you loose front grip and potentially suffer from serious understeer issues as well as very poor and quick tire wear.

Looking at the drawing you'll see the stock knuckles axis of rotation is at an angle with the top of the coilover leaning back towards the firewall. Doing this projects the axis forward and ahead of the tires contact patch.  This is needed to have self steering. This pulling or "trailing" of the wheel is what causes it to steer straight and get the wheel pointing in the direction the car is going.  Adding more angle will increase the caster trail and in turn lead to a stronger self steering effect, but like stated before, it can also have some negative effects on camber change.

With the Wisefab knuckle you'll notice the axis of rotation isn't at an angle, instead it is straight up and down (please note this is simply like that in my drawing, I don't think the actual Wisefab kit has it perfectly straight up and down but I do know it's incredibly close to being that way).  If this was done with a stock knuckle you would run into the issue I had since that's exactly what I did when I installed my camber caster plates.  So what did they do to keep the self steering effect?  They moved the spindle location back towards the firewall.  By doing that, it put the axis of rotation in front of the tires contact patch and created the needed camber trail in order to have self steering.  This trick is what allows them to keep a flat contact patch throughout turning giving them more front grip and eliminate very poor tire wear to the outsides of the tires.  Of course I've heard some people argue that it provides too much grip as some people desire a touch of understeer when at big angles.  This of course is a thing of preference from driver to driver.  It could very well make a difference in performance making in better or worse but I have yet to see anything saying if it's better or not.  I would assume sprint cars don't take this approach for a good reason so it might not be a great thing after all.

Both of these work the same way and if you're still a bit puzzled about this simply take a look at your computer chair you're sitting on (given it has wheels) or a shopping cart next time you're getting groceries.  Pull your chair and see how the wheels always follow in the direction you move it.

Keep in mind this is only going over how caster works, there is much much more that goes into self steering, king pin angle being one of them which partly works the same as caster angle and has an added part which uses the weight of the vehicle to naturally make the wheels want to point straight.  This is a subject I'm still working on understanding better and might potentially go over in the future.  For now, I'll just leave the post here.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Parts Collection Install

If you've looked over some of my many previous posts you might have noticed, I like to buy parts...then put them in my closet and let them collect a lot of dust.  I do this a lot and I'm really trying to work on not doing this as much anymore.  Just a couple weeks ago I found my opportunity!  After the last drift event I attended I had already blown out my turbo elbow gasket, not only that but it also broke the tack welds on the nuts/bolts holding it so I was missing a few of those as well.  I decided it was time to finally get around to fixing this and fixing it right this time! Since it would require either taking off the turbo or pulling my motor to drill out the broken stud, I figured this would be the perfect chance to install some of the many parts.

So, out came the motor.

First thing first, remove the old ISIS turbo elbow, then drill out the broken stud.  This surprisingly went a lot smoother than I had expected, I somehow managed to drill it out perfectly center even with the motor suspended in the air on the hoist (not enough room in my tiny ass apartment garage to fully pull the motor out and set it on the ground).  After drilling that out I removed the few studs that had somehow held on for dear life and I ran a tap through each hole to make sure they were all nice clean threads.  I then installed some brand new FRSport turbo studs.

I'm really impressed with the studs, they are a heck of a lot cheaper than the OEM ones so I was a little worried about the quality, but they appear to be good.  I do wish they had some longer threads on the side that screws into the turbo but after thinking about it, it kinda seams unnecessary as its the same length as the amount of threads that a nut would be grabbing onto.

Decided to ditch the cheap ass crap exhaust gaskets that come with pretty much any cheap elbow/downpipe and slapped an OEM gasket on there.

I think this is what might have been my biggest issue previously as those cheaper gaskets are known to "crush" when heated up which then puts some slack on the studs/nuts/bolts (whatever you use) and allows them to back out.  The OEM steel gasket only slightly crushes when installing and tightening down the nuts then doesn't change when heated so your hardware stays torqued down and won't back out.

I might have also gone a bit crazy and went overboard with this, but I seriously never want to have to deal with having this issue again.  My next step in prevention was to buy the newly designed Parts Shop Max Cobra Flex downpipe which has a built in flex pipe.  I also decided to secure them down with these awesome ARP 10mm 12 pint nuts which made it possible to properly get a socket and closed end wrench on each one so I could properly tighten them all down.  It was sooooo nice working with this combo, probably the nicest downpipe stud/nut combo to work with in the world!  Oh and I almost forgot, a boat load of locktight was used!

Just look at all the clearance there is for enabling you to get a wrench on there right!

Thank you to whoever designed these things, it makes me incredibly pleased to see something done so well rather than half assed like majority of parts seem to be.

Now that the downpipe was on and looking great I moved on to installing my Greddy manifold.  Well, probably a Freddy, the sticker clearly isn't a real one, and the casting on the inside looks right on par with how the ISIS ones look.  I was told it was real but the price was right so I could care less if it is or not, was cheaper than buying a fake one so I'm not out anything if it is.

Still on my OEM gasket kick I made sure to use one for the manifold and injector insulators.

Then I went a different route for the throttle body and IACV and used the DIF ones, which are definitely just as good of quality if not better.  Everything DIF makes is awesome.  I also swapped out my throttle wheel for an S14 one.

Up next, my Avid Racing motor mounts which have been collecting dust for around a year now.  They look really nice and feel solid.  I did notice a few things I wasn't too up beat about but oh well, if they work good I'm happy.

Mounts installed I also threw on my Circuit Sports oil filter relocation kit... I don't even know where to begin with that.  Heads up to anyone looking at them, don't get the screw on style that screws on where the filter goes.  Get one of those plates that bolt onto the block, this thing just makes me feel a bit nervous, screwing it down tight I noticed it was hitting one of the bolts on the block which makes me worried about it being tightened down tight enough and holding its seal over time.  Sorry I didn't get any pics of it, when I replace it with the bolt on block style one I'll take some.

Time to throw the motor back on in the car.

I was a bit worried about this part, with the downpipe on I wasn't sure how well this whole clearance of the steering shaft thing was going to work out.  After all, this is the only one piece downpipe I've ever seen, there has to have been a reason for them being two piece from the factory and all the other after market ones being two piece right?

Well, it wasn't that bad, went in rather smoothly, I did have to hold it off to one side more for clearing the steering but it went in without a fuss.  Plus the SR came in RHD cars so the whole steering shaft clearance thing is kind of a wash on why they made them 2 piece from the factory.

The new mounts took a bit to get lined up since they don't have shit for play in them like the stock mounts do.  Had to get the trans lined up, snug the bolts, take it off the bracket, tighten the mount, then put it all back on and hope it lined up.  Only took two tries to get it right thankfully.

One of the things I should point out about the Avid Racing trans mount, it doesn't come with hardware and the stock trans mount bolts don't even come close to working so I had to go buy some from the hardware store.

Moving on, next up was the Chase Bays power steering kit.  I bought that a long ass time ago as well, then right before putting it on I found out about the power steering cooler option they have so I picked that up as well... A touch upset about that, but I'll get to that in a minute.

Lets start with installing it.  I do really like this cooler design, has these cool slots in it for slipping a bolt head in and being able to bolt it in a nice place between the radiator and intercooler.

Got it in place and it was time to put the lines on...Got to work on those and discovered one was too short... I tried installing it exactly how the pics are on the website but it didn't work, the line from the rack to the cooler was long enough but the one from the cooler to the reservoir wasn't.  Tried flipping sides they went into on the cooler but when doing that the line to from the rack to cooler then wasn't long enough.  Also tried using the shorter of the two lines to go from the rack to cooler but that didn't work either as it was too short...

Incredibly frustrated and annoyed with this, I said screw it for now and decided to install the kit without the cooler while I get it sorted out with Chase Bays.

The kit itself makes for a nice clean install, but a few things kinda suck.  Tightening the fittings onto the reservoir sucks since there's not good way to hold it to tighten them and you can't just rely on the bracket as it easily bends when trying to tighten the fittings.  The next thing that kinda sucks are the fittings themselves, they just feel cheap and the swivel on them blows.  While tightening one on the rack the wrench twisted on the fitting and chewed that up pretty bad but I got it on so that's what matters.

Anyway, lets move on to the rest of the stuff.  Put on my new hot pipe.  I have been running without a BOV for over a year now and the turbo has held up great.  Figure it's time to fully commit to not running one and got a hot pipe without a BOV flange on it since the block off plate looked incredibly ugly.



Looks a heck of a lot better!  I should probably also point out that every PCV and vacuum/pressure related hose that I took off was replaced with all new hose.  Just something I like to do to avoid having the issue of an old hose cracking.

I slapped in the radiator, plugged in all the wiring, then worked on sorting out the throttle cable bracket.  The stock S13 one wasn't working how it was, so I "modified" it with some pliers and a nice big hammer.  With a simple major bend I was able to get it bent into a good position for the throttle cable to work nicely.

With that on I finished up mounting my oil filter relocation kit and put a nice new OEM oil filter on there.

Fits nicely on the shock tower and looks rather nice there too.  Kind of excited to do an oil change now so I can see how nicely changing the filter out is.

Up next, finish buttoning up a few things and bolt up the exhaust to the downpipe.  Yet again, I took another precaution to avoid experiencing an issue with having an exhaust leak at the turbo/downpipe.  I purchased a brand new exhaust bracket and insulator for bolting up the downpipe and taking stress off the turbo studs.  This is definitely something I think I should have invested in a long time ago, it only makes sense to have this so your turbo studs aren't being abused like crazy.

Then when putting them on I found another thing I wasn't to fond of about the Avid Racing mounts.  They move the motor/trans up higher and back closer to the firewall.  The closer to the firewall part had me pleased but the higher up part didn't.  When bolting up the exhaust and putting the bracket on I really had to force it.  The downpipe is pressed up against my floor board.  Also the trans mount doesn't have any sort of recessed area in it for the exhaust bracket so when tightening it down it bent from the back of the studs sticking out.  I don't really know how else to explain that part so if you get what I mean, that's good, if not, sorry.

While I had been under the car, Becca slapped some new NGK spark plugs in her and she was ready to be fired up!

Ignore the maf wiring in the pic for now, I'll explain that in a second...

Car didn't fire up... Then it did, and it wouldn't idle at all.  This was a problem, I wasn't sure what it might be, checked over everything to make sure it was all plugged in and everything was that I looked over.  ECU wasn't throwing any codes so I didn't know what to think.  I know MAFs are a common problem so I tried unplugging it to see what happend... It idled...well kind of idled.  Fluctuated at 2k rpm then after a quick rev would die on me.  Checked codes and got a code for MAF... of course at the time I wasn't thinking right and forgot "hey unplugging the maf is what caused the code." So I went around thinking my MAF or the wiring was the issue.  That's when I found this.

Although it looks bad, it wasn't anything bad at all.  Just the stock shielding was burnt and the wiring inside was perfectly fine.  I tore into that and checked the connections on both ends and everything looked just fine.  Of course I didn't have any electrical tape handy which is why in the pic above this one there is blue tape on there and no wire loom.

Maybe the MAF itself was bad?  Had a friend swing his spare one out to me and tried that out.. Still same problem, so I got out the trusty old volt meter and checked voltage... It all checked out...

So what next? IACV? Tried some things with that and that's when I noticed there was a different problem.  Pinched the IACV hose shut and the car was still idling (like shit of course) and I could hear a nice sort of "hiss" coming from the manifold.

Did a super ghetto boost leak test and found air leaking at the injector insulators.  Took the rail off, reemed out the mounting holes on it since they didn't line up quite right and removed the shims that go under the rail where it bolts down.  Problem solved.  No more leak and the injectors were properly seated.

Time to go for a drive!

Had a slight leak of power steering fluid where the pump feed line screwed on.  Apparently wasn't tight enough so I said screw it and put some force on it without caring about the mounting bracket bending like crazy.  That solved that.

Now for the hood.  I had tried putting it on but with the motor sitting up higher and having my throttle cable bracket up high it didn't quite clear.  There's a brace on the hood that landed right where the throttle bracket is so I had to quick notch that out to get it on.

I really need to fix some of the alignment of my body panels...

Anyway, now that she was good to go, time to add the final touch.  A gift from my good friend Travis of Shiomi Garage.  While visiting Japan he stopped at an Up Garage and picked up a tsurikawa for me.  One of those "JDM Oh Shit Handles".

Which I then proceeded to test out while Becca had some fun driving the car.

It sure does feel good to have this stuff installed.  Up next is my Technick Slide no cut camber caster plates and possibly my AEM EMS with speed density conversion.

Until next time!