Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2015 The Year of Style!

Christmas just came and passed last week, for me it went rather well.  Got a new grill for my house, a new drill since I had been borrowing Becca's dad's drill, a new pair of some much needed shoes, as well as being spoiled by my grand parents and rest of my family.  I was one happy camper, and at this point, I didn't think things could have been any better.  That was until I came home after work the following week (yesterday from the day I'm writing this) and was told to close my eyes while Becca guided me into the living room.  When I opened them I found myself in front of a massive box that was mostly covered in wrapping paper.  Yes, that's how big this box was, so big that she ran out of wrapping paper in an attempt to wrap it.

Here I was standing in my living room wondering what the heck could be inside of this? You see, she had told me about another gift that was running late but I had been under the impression it would be an air compressor.  This box was WAY bigger than one a compressor would come in.  Halfway through tearing the paper off, like a 5 year old kid who just got a new bike, I came across some writing on the box.  VIS Racing.  Then it hit me, there was a body kit inside of this thing!

Filled with excitement I tore it open and began pulling bumpers and skirts out of it, sliced up all the bubble wrap everything was covered in, and looked it all over.  I'm very thankful for the amount of care that went into wrapping it, as the box itself appeared to have seen better days, but the kit itself was mint!  I've heard plenty of "horror stories" where people received their kit in the mail only to find it had been damaged during the process of shipping and they then had to pay for it to be repaired or pay for the shipping to have a replacement one sent.  I had a big sigh of relief as well as Becca when everything checked out nicely.

Which kit is it you ask?  It's the VIS V-Speed full kit.  Just the one I wanted.  Inexpensive and still has a fair amount of quality to it.  I'm sure some people will joke about it not being some big name brand super high quality kit but I could care less about that, no matter how expensive it is they all break the same when you smash something.  Fiberglass bumpers all crack, even the top of the line ones you see on the famous cars.  So why not go with one that saves you some money and looks damn near identical.  I know I'm extremely satisfied with it!

Sadly a good portion of my fenders are missing and they have a rather good amount of damage done to them.  On top of that when I made the mistake of leaving my factory bumper behind at my old storage garage I also lost the mounting brackets I had left attached to it.  Because of that, I wasn't able to mount the bumper so I resorted to propping it up with a few blocks of wood to see how it's going to look with it on there.

Absolutely amazing!  It completely transformed the car to a point where even I had to do a double take to make sure it was really my 240 sitting in the garage.  The kit definitely makes the car look the way I've always wanted it to, and with a few more additions like a dmax vented hood and some over fenders along with wide fronts it'll be the car I've always dreamed of owning.  Who knows, maybe some of those panels will be next years Christmas present? ;)

I think this has been the best present she's ever gotten me by far.  Seriously, this gift is so awesome that I'm sure majority of you reading this are going "thank fucking god, dude has been needing a kit for years".  Some of my fellow drift buddies have went out of their way to thank Becca for buying me the kit.  I even caught Gonzo thanking her on Facebook lol.

So there you have it, my awesome bit of joy and a fresh new look for 2015!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Information Series Part 2. Roll Center Correction Ball Joints

Since I've been on the subject of roll center correction I figured why not keep the ball rolling and move on to another roll center correction part.  For part 2 of the series I will be discussing roll center correction ball joints.  A friend of mine brought this up with me when he read part 1.  After talking about it with him I feel like this is something that should be brought up before moving on to another subject as it's a simple modification to do and it's related to the previous subject.

Before reading part 2 I strongly urge you to read part 1 first.

Lets begin!

All a roll center correction ball joint is, is a ball joint with a longer "shank" on it.  Now the point of the longer shank is to move the pivot point (the actual ball portion) of the ball joint down further.  Moving this down further moves it farther away from the spindle and in turn helps bring the lower control arm to a more desired angle.  This helps correct roll center when lowering a vehicle.

Above I have drawn an example showing what is meant by a longer shank and what exactly a roll center correction ball joint looks like.  Now lets take a look at how this can be used.

Here's a comparison to show how a roll center correction ball joint works.  For the comparison I decided to use a roll center correction knuckle.  As you can see the ball joint effectively works the same as a roll center correction knuckle only its adding material to the ball joint instead.  Both setups would have the same roll center when set at the same height.

This all sounds great, replacing a ball joint is rather cheap and is a very easy job to do.  However, there are of course some limitations and some downsides to this option, you can of course also add too much.

Lets talk about this a little more in depth starting with some limitations.  The biggest issue is clearance.  With knuckles like the S-Chassis has the ball joint doesn't go straight down off the knuckle, it comes off at an angle.  If I remember correctly, on the S-Chassis it's about a 22 degree angle.  This means when you go longer with the ball joint it'll also move the pivot point of it farther out.  If gone far enough it'll run into the brake rotor, so you can only go so far with it.

Here is an example showing the clearance on my personal car.  I had issues with my setup hitting the brakes and was forced into spacing my brake rotors and calipers outwards in order for them to clear the ball joint.

Another clearance factor might be wheel clearance.  The lower you go with it the closer it'll get to your wheel and it will eventually run into it.  With that in mind, on cars with the outer tie rods set at the same height as the lower ball joint you'll have to factor the clearance for that as well.  This is another issue I've personally come across as well as a friend of mine.  The only option in those situations is run poor bump steer settings or get bigger wheels.

Next lets talk about their strength.  Ball joint shanks aren't exactly big and beefy, so when you go longer with them you start to run into a factor of how much load they can handle.  I'm not exactly well qualified to tell you how long you can go before this becomes an issue but I can tell you if you're only doing an inch or two or if you're buying an aftermarket ball joint from a company, you wont have anything to worry about here, so don't let this become something that you'll be bothered about.

Also with double wishbone style front suspension you'll have the same issue as if you were using a roll center correction knuckle, doing this will change the upper and lower control arm's angles in relation to each other which will in turn effect the cars camber change rate and other characteristics.  In fact when doing this you could make the angles of the arms bad enough where it would have an extremely negative effect on your roll center.  So if you're doing this with double wishbone, don't do a lot, because the way most cars are setup from the factory are pretty close to ideal.  After all, manufacturers don't just slap stuff together and call it good, they do a lot of engineering and testing before making something and I can assure you they know more about suspension than you do.

Hopefully I've covered enough on this subject for now.  There's surprisingly a lot to talk about when it comes to ball joints and I'm sure we could keep talking more and more about them, but for the time being I think this is a good stopping point for part 2 and roll center correction parts.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Information Series Part 1. Roll Center Correction Knuckles and Drop Knuckles

Every day I find myself seeing more and more false information spread in the drifting scene.  With it being fairly new there is a constant feed of new innovations coming out.  There are new parts and designs that are very specific to drifting, some of these things being new to racing in general.  This combined with inexperienced new enthusiast that are attracted to the scene have made this become a potentially serious problem.  It's something that I feel needs to be addressed, in order to do so I've decided to try out something new with my blog.  I'm going to begin an informational series of posts.  The goal of these posts is to share some of my knowledge and experience in order to help clarify things about different parts and explain how some stuff works.  I want to help get rid of this false information I see and hopefully help the community as a whole.

Now for a quick disclaimer before I begin.  First of all I don't know everything, I like to consider myself as fairly knowledgeable, but just know I'll be the first to admit to not knowing something.  Everything I share during this series will be subjects that I've done heavy research in and have a very good understanding with.  For most of these I will only be explaining the basics and fundamentals.  I'm wanting to keep this simple because a lot of things can get very complex very quickly and I would like to keep this easy for everyone to follow along with.  I would also like to point out that when it comes to my posts many of them will be strongly based off the S-Chassis and it's design.  Many of these things will apply to different chassis as well but because every car is different some things just can not be applied to another car.

Lets begin!

For this post I'll be talking about roll center correction knuckles and drop knuckles.  All examples will be front suspension and S-Chassis related, for those that aren't aware the S-Chassis has McPherson front suspension so this is going to be strongly based on that.  Some things will work with double wish bone style but some things will not work and should not be done with double wish bone as it will cause issues!!!

Drop knuckles, what are they, what do they do, and how do they do it.  A drop knuckle is simply a knuckle in which the spindle has been relocated when compared to a factory spindle location.  With a drop knuckle this means the spindle has been moved upwards on the knuckle which creates a drop in ride height via the knuckle and nothing else.  This is where the drop in the name comes from.  This is the best way to go about lowering a car as it does not change the roll center of the vehicle.  Now of course there are limitations to how much of a drop can be done and like everything, you can have too much.  Double wishbone style suspension where the upper ball joint is above the wheel might not have enough clearance between the tire and upper ball joint sometimes.  So it isn't always a modification that can be done on every car.  S-Chassis and other McPherson front suspension cars do not have that issue however, so a drop knuckle is something you might very well be able to find on the market.

Above I have drawn an example of a drop knuckle.  You can see on the drop knuckle the spindle location has been moved upwards in comparison to the factory knuckle.  Please note there's more work that goes into making a drop knuckle than just moving the spindle upwards.  Like I said before, I'm keeping this simple and all the super in depth details will either be covered in a future post or I might leave it up to you to research for yourself because I don't feel a need to discuss it or I might not want to tell everyone so I can hopefully have an advantage over the competition.

Moving on now, lets talk about roll center correcting knuckles.  Roll center correction is another thing you will see when looking up aftermarket knuckles.  Some cars like the AE86 have bolt on roll center correction spacers that are easily installed.  One confusing thing is roll center correction can sometimes be mistaken for a drop if you don't know what you're looking at.  This is why I've decided to cover this subject.  Roll center correction on a knuckle simply refers to added material below the spindle, this added material will move the lower ball joint down farther away from the spindle.  Why do this? What does it help? It helps with correcting the roll center of the vehicle.  Unfortunately there's a lot of information that goes with understanding roll center and what it is. I'm not going to cover it in this post, all you need to know for now is your lower control arms angle has a lot to do with it and is a major factor with suspension.  Also roll center correction is not for everyone, double wishbone will run into issues here, as adding material to the bottom will change the upper control arms angle in relation to the lower control arm.  This can have some very negative effects that you definitely do not want.  There are of course limitations to how much can be done and of course you can have too much.  The amount you might need will very a lot from car to car, it is also always something that changes with ride height.  An example of when roll center correction will become helpful is on a lowered car where you lowered it with a set of springs or coliovers.  When you go lower via the spring or coilover this moves the entire knuckle upwards in relation to the car.  As this is done the ball joint of the lower control arm moves up with it, as that happens the LCA goes from being level to being at an upwards slant like a "V" when looking at the front of the car.  When you add material to the bottom of the knuckle and move the ball joint down farther away from the spindle this allows the knuckle to move upwards to lower the car and not move your ball joint up with it so you can keep your control arms level.

Above I have drawn an example of a roll center correction knuckle.  Notice between the two the spindle height remained the same.  The only change between these two knuckles is on the roll center correction one there is added material on the bottom of the knuckle which moved the ball joint location (orange circle) down farther away from the spindle.

Here in the second example you can see how you're able to lower the car yet keep the ball joint at the same location as it would be from the factory, which is commonly at a good roll center location.

One thing I've noticed is due to limitations of the knuckle itself you're not always able to lower the car as much as you want when using just a drop knuckle, so what some companies will do is they will also include some roll center correction to the knuckle as well.  This is where I think the confusion comes from when looking at knuckles and why some people will mix up a drop knuckle as a roll center correction knuckle.  Just looking at a picture online will sometimes be difficult to tell the two apart so make sure you do your research and find out what exactly the knuckle is offering.

Hopefully this has provided you with a basic understanding of what a roll center correction knuckle and a drop knuckle is.  If you read this and noticed a mistake I might have made or have some information that you think should be added please feel free to contact me on this.  I want this to be as accurate as possible and be as helpful as I can make it.

Thanks for reading!  I look forward to the next post!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Prep For O' Drift Collective's The Uprising!

Getting ready for a drift event is almost always a last minute thing for me.  I'm constantly finding myself staying up late the night before and missing out on a lot of sleep.  Then on top of that come the day of the drive I'm almost always still working on some things, packing stuff up, and leaving way behind schedule.  This time however, I got prepared in advance.  I told myself no more last minute crap, I haven't slid at all this year up to this point so I had no excuses for not being ready.

To start of my preparations I began with looking my car over and figuring out if anything needs done to it.  I looked it up and down asking myself, is anything broken? Is there something that doesn't look right? Do I need to make any changes to different settings?  Of course the answer was yes to all of those.  I had one of the tension rod bracket nuts inside of the fame break free of its welds then rattle itself loose to where the bolt fell out and the nut in the frame was nowhere to be found.  As for things that didn't look right my front tires were screaming "Please replace us or I'll make you understeer like you never have before!" the tread was trashed and down to secondary rubber, even showing some cords in a few places.  Lastly settings, still needed to fine tune the front caster/steering and possibly make changes to the rear.

I started off with ordering things that I needed.  Luckily I didn't need much of anything except for some tires.  Not all that satisfied with the Maxxis MA-V1 tires performance I decided to try something different.  A ton of my friends and fellow local drifters have been ranting and raving about the Kenda Kaiser KR20 so I picked up a set of 4 in a 215/45r17 to be slapped on the rear.

Along with those I also placed an order for a new pair of steer tires.  Again I was unhappy with my current steers which were BFG G-Force Comp 2 so I decided to make the change to something else.  Another tire that was recommended to me by some drift friends of mine.  The tire, Falken Azenis RT-615k, the size I went with is a 205/40r17.  I only run a 17x7 rim up front so these make for a killer fit and with the shorter sidewall it gives me more clearance in the wheel wells allowing me to keep them stock and not have to cut them out or do tubs.

Just like that, my purchases for the car were done.  Next up was to make some repairs and fine tune a few things.  For this I made a quick trip up to my good friend Tavis's place, Shiomi Garage!  When I made this trip I had just made my custom end plates for my BCL wing the night before so I was rather excited to take a photo at the gas pumps.

Then I made the wet and raining journey up to the garage on my old worn out steer tires.  They liked hydro plaining, but that didn't stop me from smiling!

After a quick hour and a half drive up there, I had arrived!

Right away upon getting there I made sure to greet my homie with a beer and we got some cold ones crackin'.  What would a visit to Shiomi Garage be without some beer?  After some talking we got to looking his coupe over.  The week before he had finally gotten the car to a point where it was ready to be fired up for the first time and taken out for it's first drive.  Unfortunately when he went to start it, it didn't start, so there was some trouble shooting to be done.  Luckily there wasn't a thing wrong with the engine or wiring, all checked out good and after an hour of looking it all over and doing some trouble shooting we noticed he was missing an FPR.  The previous owner of the engine had put an aftermarket one on there so where the stock FPR one goes there was a hose adapter there so he wasn't building up any pressure.  To take care of this I quick pulled the Aeromotive one off my car and slapped it on his.  That's when we got to hear it purr for the very first time.

After that, he got to work finishing up doing his brake lines and I helped him bleed them.  That's when it hit me, I was finally going to get a chance to do some sliding with Travis!  After the brakes were bled that car was set on the ground faster than I've ever seen a car find it's way off a set of jack stands.  Then it was fired up and he hit the streets!

After he tore up and down his neighborhood he handed me the key and told me to take it for a spin.  Yet again another first, this one being my first time to ever drive a RHD car.  What a feeling, the car felt really comfortable and something about that 1, 2 shift just felt so right.  Not only that but dropping down into 2nd from 3rd is like a dream come true!  Soooo much easier and more natural with RHD than it is with a LHD car.  By the time we were done doing our little down and backs the sun had set and the car had developed a boost leak from one of the couplers so we called it a night and left the sliding for another day.

Of course at this point I remembered I still needed to make the repairs on my car... Thankfully it was just a quick easy one, I had already notched the hole in the frame and put a nut in place.  Just had to have him weld it up quick.

Sorry for not having pics of it welded.  It was late and really dark so all I have are the two I had taken earlier in the day from when I cut the hole and put a nut in place.

Now that I had my small repair made to the car it was time to move on to the next order of business.  Mount my new tires, only I'm not a big fan of being wasteful.  Had to shred what was left of the old ones first!  Made a quick trip to a small lot in Mexico and got to work burning off some rubber.  While I was at it I tested out some small alignment changes and some new camera mount positions... Speaking of my camera, I pulled a stupid move and somehow had my GoPro set on picture mode... However I did still manage to get a quick clip of Becca having some fun taking my car for a spin and seeing what the new steering settings where like.  Needless to say, she loved it and made sure to let me know with some style, by banging the limiter after thoroughly enjoying how it felt to drive.

Mmmmmmmm Surge!

Several black marks later the tires were toast and I was ready to throw on some new rubber!

For this I made a trip over to my good friend Sean's shop, Central Imports so I could use his tire machine to get these babies mounted up.  After a bit of work and some serious amount of struggling with the Falken's all the tires were mounted up and I was ready to rock!  Of course I made sure to get a good look at the RHD FD RX-7 front clip he had just chillin by the tire machine on my way out.

Once home with the newly mounted tires I stacked them all up and just looked at the beautiful sight in front of me.  There's just something about new tires.

It was time to put the the wheels back on my baby and set her on the ground.  The event was only a few short days away so there wasn't any time to waste.  I was planning on being prepared and leaving ahead of schedule this time around!

That night I put on some new stickers and decals.  One of which being for Imports USA to go on my rear windshield.  My friend Rodney has provided me with a lot of support over the years and is very involved with the local scene.  I had to make sure I represented him and his shop because without him I'm not sure I would be doing what I'm doing today.

Along with those I made sure to slap an Aloha Oe sticker on the wing.  This one giving a nod to the show Space Dandy.

Just like that, the car was ready to rock.  Tires put on, car was repaired, front suspension tweeks were made, and some new stickers/decals were applied.  Night time came around and it was time for bed, the next day I had planned to take the day off from work so I could pickup a trailer and get the packing out of the way in advance.

Morning rolled around and I spend the whole entire day finishing up getting ready.  Picked up the trailer bright and early then spent a good hour figuring out how exactly I was going to get the car on it.  It was a rather interesting solution but I figured something out.  Of course after I got it on there I was let on to a trick by some people on Facebook which would have made loading the car as easy as simply driving up on the trailer without worrying about clearance issues.

With everything all loaded up before dinner time I made sure to have a nice little toast with myself and a can of Surge.  It was looking like I would be having my first ever stress free trip to an event.