Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Custom 4-Links Installation and Wheel Alignment

Last weekend, The Dog had finally got full spherical rod-end suspension links on her rear-end. After the installation of the lateral rod a few weeks ago, the 4-links were in. Everything went smoothly as planned, a sign that i did my measurements correct.

I decided to keep the stock diff angle for now so the custom 4-links were set to have the same lengths as the stock ones. With the Dog now lower than stock height, a diff angle adjustment should be in order.

Here's a comparison of the stock and custom link. The red Prothane bushings were only a few kilometers old but i'm swapping them anyway.

Here's the lower link installed.

Verdict? Except for the extra noise in the cabin, can't say that i notice any difference on normal driving. My previous polyurethane bushings were still new so that's expected. I wasn't surprised with the extra noise as metal is worse than rubber in damping differential noise. Anyway, albeit small, improvements are improvements. Let's see how long those rod-ends last.

Next was the pending wheel alignment. I changed my steering links months ago so i've been driving without proper wheel alignment ever since.

Usually, we can only adjust the toe and caster on Charmants but with the T3 plates, cambers are also adjustable on mine. I did a search on wheel alignments settings used by most AE86 owners and based on that decided to have mine something like this:
Front Toe: 0 deg
Front Camber: -2 deg
Front Caster: 3.5 deg
I left the rears as they were although with the 4 links, i can at least adjust the toe.

I learned later that i can only get to 2 deg of caster on the front. I already ran out of the threads on my strut rods so it couldn't be shifted further for more caster. I don't know why but maybe my RCA prevents the extra Caster.

Confused with the terms? Here's good depiction taken from Hayne's manual.

So why did i choose the preferred settings? A zero toe would guarantee my tires last longer, a moderate negative camber would help on cornering while minimizing impact on inner tire wear and finally maximum caster helps on straight highway drive as it stabilizes the steering better. Compare a Harley Davidson with Suzuki Hayabusa. The extra rake angle on the Harley helps to minimize move on straight roads compared to the sporty Hayabusa right? Well that's just about what extra caster do on your steering.

Here's the comparison before and after the alignment.
Notice what it says on the upper right corner? Yup AE86 P/S. The wheel alignment computer had no database for Charmants so i told the aligner to set it as Power Steering equipped AE86. Should be the same right?

Other than those, finally found the culprit of my cranking problem. It was the battery all along. Changed to new battery and starting the engine has never been easier. With this solved, i am confident that i can take The Dog to my workplace so i'll get to see her everyday.

Other than that, i also get to install some Hella horns in and fixed the door lock. It's the small things that makes the car more enjoyable to drive. The more minor problems you fix compared to the major ones, the more it tells you that your car's doing great.

Last thing, how about a new look on my OG Axis Oldskool wheels? Yeah, the Equip cap certainly helped to improve the looks, i'd say!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Daydreaming The Next Project

Daydream - verb (intransitive):
To spend time thinking about something pleasant, especially when you should be doing something more serious

Workload is getting crazier each day and yet i still manage to let my mind wander off thinking about the next project. If, and that's a very big IF, i get the opportunity and cash to start a second build project, i would go the totally different direction from where i went with my Daihatsu Charmant. I don't see any point of doing a second project if you're just repeating most of stuff you did on the first one. You'd lose the opportunity of learning new stuff and, in my opinion, just wasting your cash. Here's a list of what my next project should be:

1. Not a Toyota or its derivative (*cough* Daihatsu Charmants)
Doing The Dog build project has introduced me to new part-shops and junkyards which specialize on Toyota and Daihatsu and have helped me so far in supplying stuff i need. Not doing a Toyota would force me to hunt new part suppliers and junkyards. Finding a shop which sells rare parts unknown to many is satisfying, right?

2. Front Wheel Drive
It would be great to actually feel and know the difference between driving a RWD and FWD. It would be like installing a switch in my head allowing me to shift driving habits. Those theories of oversteer vs understeer would actually be experienced on the road. Doing a FWD might also allow me to learn new suspension system. I've the chance to learn MacPhersons and 4-link solid axle systems on The Dog. Who knows i'll see double-wishbones or trailing-arms on the next project.

3. Normally Aspirated
or Forced Induction, depending on how i go with The Dog. So far, i've been collecting turbo parts at a very slow pace. If i do end up turbocharging The Dog, the next project would be learning how to increase NA performance. We're talking about port-n-polishing, high duration camshaft, ITBs, lighter flywheel, etc. I might even go dinosaur by going for carbs as The Dog is running EFI.

However, no matter how radical i go with the next project, some points from The Dog must be kept. They are:

1. 90's or older cars
Simple, they usually come so cheap, you don't mind hacking the hell out of them. Plus, you're left with extra cash to build them!

2. Plenty of knowledge bases
A bit related to #1.. Usually it's easier to find knowledge bases or articles on older cars as the age itself allows many people to research and experiment on them. You won't realize that Mitsubishi Sigma control arms will fit an S13 suspension conversion on the AE86 if it is only two or three years old.

3. Easy engine conversion
Putting a 4A-GE to The Dog was fairly easy. The next project should be the same.

Pretty sure some of you already have in mind of what my next project should be after reading the points above. I won't lie to you, i have also started the research on what could be my next build. Let's see if we share the same idea.

Meet Honda Civic.
This is one is the 3-door hatchback 4th gen model, commonly referred to as EF Civics. Beautiful, isn't she? Let's see how well this model does on challenging the points above. First, they're obviously not Toyota, duh! That means new shops to find and rare parts to gather. Second, Civics are all FWD. In fact, i've never heard of RWD market sold Hondas. Is there any? Oh wait, S2000 and NSX! Silly me. Also she comes with double wishbone suspension, on the front at least as according to Wikipedia the rear one is more correctly described as "multi-link trailing arm", whatever that is. New system to learn, more fun coming! Third, as far as NA goes, i'd love to have an ITB'd Civic. The sweet induction sound would complement what's missing on The Dog. Next, you can find a lot of information regarding EF Civics on the net. Here's some: 1, 2, 3 ... 1001.. the list goes on and on. Last one, having D13 engine, it should be easy to swap in a D16+P08 head in. Of course there's old OBD conversion problem but i don't see how a Megasquirt can't get around it. Obviously, i haven't done enough research yet.

She fulfills all of the points above, well some at least, as one thing still bothers me: They go for US$4K-5K here depending on the condition and that's not what i consider as cheap for build project basis. May i remind you that The Dog cost me only US$1K? I guess all the retro fever lately has bumped the price of nearly every old Jap cars available. The price has also made me consider the earlier 3rd generation EA Civic but even these would cost US$3K-4K and even worse is that they come with E series engine. I don't know much yet but i think it's more difficult to swap a D series engine to an E engine bay. If i'm wrong on this last one, the EA Civic would be a better candidate.

Anyway, here's some more pics of this beautiful car i found on civic4g.com

More pics can be found here.

And here's a teaser if i go with EAs. Wait, or is it AT Civics?


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Ultra Racing AE86 Fender Bars & Work Equip Caps

Apart from the SLC DIY Wideband, these are on their way home: Ultra Racing Fender Bars & Work Equip wheel caps.

Why just the fender bars? I believe they're the most complicated and time consuming to fabricate on my own as they require me to remove the fenders before i can even start measuring to make the design. With very little time to work on The Dog, i prefer to buy pre-made fender bars. I will custom-made the other parts which would be the rear anti-roll bar, two-point front and three-point rear strut bars. Those should take just a day to fabricate and install, fender bars included. Heck, maybe i can even throw a front lower arm brace in. I think those should be enough to stiffen the front and rear parts. Contrary to what some believe, you can actually put too much bracings. Haven't decided what to use to strengthen the mid-section including the cabin. It could be a roll-cage or another set of bracings.

Anyway, i found a local distributor for Ultra Racing parts which gave me a good price on the fender bars. That's why i opted for the Malaysian-born chassis tuning parts. As can be seen below, they are actually for AE86, with part number UR-FD3-041.
but seeing that they fit KE70s..
i'm pretty sure also that they'll fit The Dog.

Not much to say about the Work Equip caps except that they're custom-made locally and will sit on top of my original Axis OG Oldskool wheel cap labels.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Hong Kong Daihatsu Charmant Ad

Found this Daihatsu Charmant ad from a friend's Facebook post. Using Google Translate to read the Chinese characters, i think this ad is from Hongkong. Anyway, this would be the first time i see a video ad for Charmants.

Would be great if there's anyone who understood the language and could translate it for us!

Back Being a Busy Bee

It's that time of the year again when i have to do what i'm paid for.. Managing telco projects. My last project was completed somewhere on December last year. That's why you've been seeing a lot of updates on The Dog lately. Well, fun time's over and I'm afraid i have to ignore The Dog once again for a while to focus on work.

Being a bit free since December, i'm happy to see the progress made for The Dog. My 4A-GE is finally running with Megasquirt, custom RX7 brake and short-stroke suspension conversion is done, Corona RT132 T-series axle is fitted, polyurethane bushes are in and some rod-end suspension bits are fabricated. Those and a few minor problems fix like vacuum and cooling have ensured that The Dog can finally be taken out for some fun, proven by going to her very first gathering with fellow DCC members.

A minor problem left to solve is battery problem. I've been draining my battery flat every two days and it's preventing cranking the engine properly. It could be a parasitic load somewhere on the wiring, which would be a pain to trace, or just a weak battery. Hoping it was the later, i just have to buy a new battery and would finally be confident to take The Dog to my work area which is about 8-10 hours of drive.

With that said, i'll try my best to keep in touch with The Dog every few weekends and hopefully can keep on updating the blog.